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January 9, 2009 Newsletter January 9, 2009
Happy New Year! I Forgot to Drink the Eggnog...Again...
Each holiday I do a huge holiday shopping trip at the grocery store. Each year I buy a carton of eggnog. Three of the last four years I have forgotten to open it. The last day of vacation when I was rummaging through the fridge at the beach house rental hoping to pull a meal together without again going to the store, I saw the carton there on a bottom shelf. It was Southern Comfort eggnog, by the way, which somehow in the store sounded a lot better than the other brands, though I am sure there was no liquor inside. I poured myself a glass and made notes for this newsletter, which is a holiday wrap-up. I just might make this a tradition. Of course I am trying not to think about the calories in eggnog. By the time the carton was done, I was into Friday's calories on Monday!

The past weeks have been a lovely break. It's nice to cut the engine every once in a while and just drift a bit and see where you end up. Most days I had no plans or a plan that could change. I like days like that, and there are way too few of them in my life. So what filled the days besides presents? Reading, knitting, movies, hanging in the hottub and walks on the beach.

Most of the books that I read were upcoming titles, and there are some real treats ahead. The first is a debut novel called THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett. Set in 1963, it's the story of three women --- two African American maids in the Deep South and a young white woman who sees a story in the world that they live in. It's just brilliantly written. You hear the voices, see the houses and truly feel like a voyeur in their world. I found myself reaching for the book between present opening, dinner preparations and other holiday festivities. Abileen, Minnie and Skeeter are strong characters, and the stories they tell speaks volumes about the time. Stockett closes the book with a piece about her family's maid, which shows why she could write this book with such insight and honesty. And yes, reading it I could not help but think how much has changed with the upcoming Inauguration. No matter what your political views, reading THE HELP and seeing the world 46 years ago when the right to vote was something that was fought over, and not taken for granted, is interesting.

Next up, I read Kate Atkinson’s WHEN WILL THERE BE GOOD NEWS?, which already is in stores that one of our readers had recommended to me. I loved CASE HISTORIES, and this had some of the same feel; nice read on the deck. From there I moved on to THE DEAD MAN by Joel Goldman, which is out in April. It’s the second in his Jack Davis series. Joel gets better and better with each book, and I love his character development of Jack and the others who drive the story. Next up was the manuscript of VANISHED, the first book in Joseph Finder’s new series. I am not going to share much here since this one still is under wraps, but I will tell you I know readers are going to love Nick Heller, his new main character. I carried the pages around the house, and there were a few times where I would be scrambling rather frantically looking for page 366 when 365 ended. I never put manuscript pages in a binder, and I usually shuffle them onto the floor at least once, thus it’s always an experience reading one. The series starts in August, so I am very early on this one. Right now I am reading A RELIABLE WIFE by Robert Goolrick, which is out in March. I am not a huge fan of books with historical settings, but this one has been my read late/read early book this week as I am having trouble tearing myself away from it. If I did not have deadlines today, I would have been off finishing it.
We saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button over the holiday, which is the best movie I have seen in a while. I keep drawing comparisons between that and Forrest Gump. In fact, my younger son did a whole string of comparisons on the way home since Forrest Gump is one of his favorite movies. As I suspected, there was the same writer, Eric Roth, on both. The day after we saw it, we went to the local bookstore and bought a copy of the F. Scott Fitzgerald book of short stories called THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON AND OTHER JAZZ AGE STORIES, which includes the story that the movie was loosely based on called “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” Cory read it aloud to us over dinner. (By the way, he was not eating dinner since he had consumed so many snack foods all day he was not hungry, but I do digress.) It was great fun hearing him do that, and he read over two nights; it's been a while since anyone read aloud to me. When people say loosely based on the story, they do mean it, but it still was fun to hear it and it definitely is worth reading to see the genesis of the idea. We also saw Marley & Me, which was fun. I confess to having problems with the fact that Jennifer Aniston has three kids and still looks the same at the end of the movie, but the dog scenes were hilarious and the ending was very emotional as one would suspect. I who can turn into a puddle on command was puddling.

Speaking of emotional moments, check out this five-minute video where Kelly Corrigan, author of THE MIDDLE PLACE, reads an essay from the book that is just now out in paperback on the capacity of women to support each other. It was posted three weeks ago, and, as of Tuesday, it had 1.8 million page views. When you watch it, you will see why. You WILL send this to friends.

Lots to share this week, including a review of a book that I told you about months ago called STILL ALICE by Lisa Genova. One of my goals this year is to create a list of spotlight titles that I think are sooooo special that when they come out we want to say, “Just read this now.” Right now the plan is for this list to be debut authors, or names you may not know, but things will evolve as the year goes on. STILL ALICE, which I review this week, is the first of those titles. Some of the others I start conversation about above, but trust that conversation is going to be ongoing. Last year, THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN was the book that really tickled me like this. More on this to come as the year unfolds, but I am considering this a resolution I am not going to break.

One more thing. Over the holidays I got a Flip camera, which I had read about on It’s a 3 1/2" x 1 1/2" HD camera that fits in the pocket of my jeans on walks to the beach. The last day I shot the coolest video of a completely calm surf where there literally was ONE wave and a school of dolphins making their way down the coast. I joke that I now have my four pockets filled: New slim camera, BlackBerry, iPod or Phone and the Flip. Makes me think of that cartoon character, Quick Draw McGraw. I am that version of Media Chick.

Well, that’s quite a kickoff to the new year. I think I need a nap. Here’s to 2009...may it be good to you! "24" starts this weekend and, yes, I am ready for some football. At the risk of getting tons of email from those who do not feel the same way, GOOOOO Giants. Have a great one.

Carol Fitzgerald ([email protected]) Talks to Ted Dekker and Erin Healy, Authors of KISS
Bestselling author Ted Dekker teamed up with his longtime editor, Erin Healy, to co-write the recently released suspense novel KISS. In this interview with's Marcia Ford, Healy describes some of the challenges she faced in the transition from editor to author, while Dekker speculates on his broad readership, despite the fact that he is usually classified as a Christian writer. They also discuss what made their collaboration work, give insight into their writing process, and share details about their next publication, BURN.

KISS by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy (Suspense)
After a car accident puts Shauna McAllister in a coma and wipes out six months of her memory, she returns to her childhood home to recover, but her arrival is fraught with confusion. Leaning on Wayne Spade, a forgotten but hopeful lover who stays by her side, Shauna tries to sort out what happened that night by jarring her memory to life. Instead, she acquires a mysterious mental ability that will either lead her to truth or get her killed by the people trying to hide it. Reviewed by Marcia Ford.

-Click here to read a review of KISS.
-Click here to read an excerpt from KISS.

Click here to read our interview with Ted Dekker and Erin Healy.

Now in Stores: ON THE GRIND by Stephen J. Cannell
ON THE GRIND: A Shane Scully Novel by Stephen J. Cannell (Thriller)
Charged with felony misconduct in a high-profile solicitation of murder case, Lieutenant Shane Scully is faced with an impossible decision: either quietly resign from his job as a detective for the LAPD, the work he loves, or face criminal prosecution. Rather than smear the department’s reputation and his own, Scully chooses to leave. Life as Scully knows it is over. Or so it seems. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read an excerpt from ON THE GRIND.

Click here to read a review of ON THE GRIND.

Now in Stores: THE HOUR I FIRST BELIEVED by Wally Lamb
THE HOUR I FIRST BELIEVED by Wally Lamb (Fiction)
In his new novel, Wally Lamb (author of SHE’S COME UNDONE and I KNOW THIS MUCH IS TRUE) travels well beyond his earlier work and embodies in his fiction myth, psychology, family history stretching back many generations, and the questions of faith that lie at the heart of everyday life. Reviewed by Eileen Zimmerman Nicol.

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE HOUR I FIRST BELIEVED.
Click here to read a review of THE HOUR I FIRST BELIEVED.

Now in Stores: STILL ALICE by Lisa Genova
STILL ALICE by Lisa Genova (Fiction)
Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children, is a celebrated Harvard professor at the height of her career when she notices a forgetfulness creeping into her life. As confusion starts to cloud her thinking and her memory begins to fail her, she receives a devastating diagnosis: early onset Alzheimer's disease. Fiercely independent, Alice struggles to maintain her lifestyle and live in the moment, even as her sense of self is being stripped away. This compelling debut novel has been released simultaneously in hardcover and trade paperback. Reviewed by Carol Fitzgerald.

-Click here to read an excerpt from STILL ALICE.

Click here to read a review of STILL ALICE.

Special Contest: Win an Advance Copy of ECSTASY by Jacquelyn Frank
We’re celebrating the release of ECSTASY: The Shadowdwellers --- New York Times bestselling author Jacquelyn Frank’s stunning new paranormal romance --- with a special contest. Ten readers will have the opportunity to each win one advance copy of ECSTASY, which is now available in stores. Readers who answer the question correctly by reading an excerpt from the book will be automatically entered to win.

Enter between now and Thursday, January 29th by filling out the form found here.

More about ECSTASY:

After a terrifying car crash, Ashla wakes up to find the bustling New York she once knew is now eerie and desolate. Just when she’s convinced she’s alone, Ashla is confronted by Trace, a dark warrior who draws her deeper into a world she never knew existed. The bond between them is a mystery to both, but searching for answers will mean confronting long-hidden secrets, and uncovering a threat that could destroy everything Trace holds precious.

-Click here to read more about ECSTASY.
-Click here to read an excerpt from ECSTASY.
-In addition to our contest, click here for a chance to win a FREE Shadowdwellers tattoo from Kensington Books!

Click here for more details about the contest and how to enter.

Featured Romantic Suspense Authors: Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush, Authors of WICKED GAME
Lisa Jackson is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than 75 novels, including SHIVER and FATAL BURN. In WICKED GAME, Jackson teams up with Nancy Bush --- her sister and acclaimed author of the Jane Kelly mystery series. Together they deliver a suspenseful tale in which a group of old friends find themselves being killed off one by one. WICKED GAME will be in stores on January 27th.

-Click here to read an excerpt from WICKED GAME.
-Click here to read Lisa Jackson’s bio.

-Click here to see Lisa Jackson's backlist.
-Click here to read Nancy Bush’s bio.
-Click here to see Nancy Bush's backlist.
-Visit Lisa Jackson’s official website,
-Visit Nancy Bush’s official website,
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

More about WICKED GAME:
Twenty years ago, wild-child Jessie Brentwood vanished from St. Elizabeth’s high school. Most in Jessie’s tight circle of friends believed she simply ran away. Few suspected Jessie was hiding a shocking secret --- one that brought her into the crosshairs of a vicious killer. Two decades pass before a body is unearthed on school grounds and Jessie’s old friends reunite to talk. Most are sure the body is Jessie’s and the mystery of what happened to her has finally been solved. But soon, Jessie’s friends each begin to die in horrible, freak accidents that defy explanation.

Click here to read more about Lisa Jackson, Nancy Bush and WICKED GAME.

Featured One to Watch Author: T. Greenwood, Author of TWO RIVERS
T. Greenwood is the author of BREATHING WATER, NEARER THAN THE SKY and UNDRESSING THE MOON, the latter two both Booksense 76 picks. TWO RIVERS, her new novel now available in stores, is a powerful, haunting tale of enduring love, destructive secrets and opportunities that arrive in disguise.

-Click here to read a third excerpt from TWO RIVERS.
-Click here to read T. Greenwood’s bio.
-Click here to see T. Greenwood's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for TWO RIVERS.
-Visit T. Greenwood’s official website,
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

More about TWO RIVERS:
In Two Rivers, Vermont, Harper Montgomery is living a life overshadowed by grief and guilt. Since the death of his wife, Betsy, 12 years earlier, Harper has narrowed his world to working at the local railroad and raising his daughter, Shelly, the best way he knows how. Still wracked with sorrow over the loss of his life-long love and plagued by his role in a brutal, long-ago crime, he wants only to make amends for his past mistakes.

Click here to read more about T. Greenwood and TWO RIVERS.

Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: Kevin O’Brien, Author of FINAL BREATH
Kevin O’Brien is the New York Times bestselling author of 10 books --- including ONE LAST SCREAM and KILLING SPREE --- and received a Spotted Owl Award for his 2005 novel, THE LAST VICTIM. In FINAL BREATH, his new thriller releasing on December 30th, television reporter Sydney Jordan discovers that there is a terrifying connection in a string of seemingly random deaths throughout the country.

-Click here to read a third excerpt from FINAL BREATH.
-Click here to read Kevin O’Brien’s bio.
-Click here to see Kevin O'Brien's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for FINAL BREATH.
-Visit Kevin O'Brien's official website,
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

More about FINAL BREATH:
At first the deaths seem random: a young Portland couple brutally murdered in a game gone awry, a Chicago woman who plummeted to her death from an office building, an aspiring screenwriter asphyxiated in his New York apartment… but the macabre souvenirs television reporter Sydney Jordan receives reveal the connection is both personal and terrifying.

Click here to read more about Kevin O'Brien and FINAL BREATH.

Books into Movies/Books into Movies on DVD for January
This January,’s Books into Movies feature is kicking off the new year with six literary-based offerings for both the big and small screen. Running the gamut from the Elmore Leonard thriller Killshot to the family (and pet)-friendly Hotel for Dogs, these films are loaded with drama, action, suspense and entertainment, while also promising to inspire some laughs, a few tears and plenty of food for thought.

Quite heavy in the drama department are Not Easily Broken --- based on T. D. Jakes’s novel about a longtime couple whose already fragile marriage is put to the test when one of them is seriously injured in an accident --- and Defiance, a raw and poignant tale based on true events about three brothers who organize what was to become the largest armed rescue of Jews by Jews during the Holocaust.

For a more light-hearted alternative, take the kids to see Inkheart, a fantasy adventure based on Cornelia Funke’s beloved bestseller about a young girl and her father who both possess the ability to bring storybook characters to life, and the unexpected and disastrous consequences that follow an outing to a used bookstore.

For an excuse to spend a few nights in, be sure to check out “The Last Templar,” a new primetime miniseries to air on NBC starting January 25th. Adapted from Raymond Khoury’s bestseller, this historically-based thriller explores the legend behind the Templars, an order of Knights from early Christianity that, strangely enough, seems to be thriving in present-day
New York City.

And lastly, new on DVD this month are the futuristic thriller
Babylon A.D., the period classic Brideshead Revisited and the sci-fi fantasy family adventure City of Ember.

Click here for more details about January's films.

What's New This Month on
With more than 2,500 discussion guides now available, continues to be the leading place for book clubs to find all the resources they need on the web.

Our Blog continues to be a big hit among our readers. Throughout the month we are sharing postings from regular contributors --- including authors, librarians, book club facilitators, booksellers and experts in the publishing industry --- as well as special guests. The latest blog can be found here, and here are quick links to some recent posts:

-Alexander McCall Smith's Serial Novel
-Tatiana de Rosnay: The Story Behind SARAH'S KEY
-Book Club Festivities...and Trying Something New
-Au Revoir, 2008
-Six Titles I Wish I Had Read with My Book Club
-Book Clubs in the News

-Joshua Henkin's Book Club Adventures
-Joshua Henkin's Book Club Adventures, Part II
-The Pulpwood Queens' Best Books for Holiday Giving
-Book Club Discord

The following guides are now available on

THE BREAK-UP DIET: A Memoir by Annette Fix
FINDIND IRIS CHANG: Friendship, Ambition, and the Loss of an Extraordinary Mind by Paula Kamen
FIRMIN by Sam Savage

AN INCOMPLETE REVENGE: A Maisie Dobbs Novel by Jacqueline Winspear
LARK & TERMITE by Jayne Anne Phillips
LIMA NIGHTS by Marie Arana
PEOPLE OF THE BOOK by Geraldine Brooks
SEE YOU IN A HUNDRED YEARS: Discover One Young Family's Search for a Simpler Life…Four Seasons of Living in the Year 1900 by Logan Ward
STILL ALICE by Lisa Genova
THE THIRD CHAPTER: Passion, Risk, and Adventure in the 25 Years After 50 by Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot
TWO RIVERS by T. Greenwood
WHAT I WAS by Meg Rosoff

Please note that these titles, for which we already had the guides when they appeared in hardcover, are now available in paperback:

THE COMMONER by John Burnham Schwartz
FIREFLY LANE by Kristin Hannah
HOMECOMING by Bernhard Schlink
ISABELLA MOON by Laura Benedict
LIFE CLASS by Pat Barker
MEMORY by Philippe Grimbert
SONG YET SUNG by James McBride
THE WINTER ROSE by Jennifer Donnelly

We have the following new guides for Christian book groups:

ALL I NEED IS JESUS AND A GOOD PAIR OF JEANS: The Tired Supergirl’s Search for Grace by Susanna Foth Aughtmon
THE EDGE OF LIGHT: At Home in Beldon Grove, Book 1 by Ann Shorey
FIREFLIES IN DECEMBER by Jennifer Erin Valent
LOVING CEE CEE JOHNSON by Linda Leigh Hargrove
NO PLACE FOR A LADY: Heart of the West Series, Book 1 by Maggie Brendan
PAPER ROSES: Texas Dreams Trilogy, Book 1 by Amanda Cabot
PRAYER POWER: 30 Days to a Stronger Connection with God by Peter Lundell

Click here to visit

Coming Soon: Books Releasing in the Months Ahead
Curious about what books will be released in the months ahead? Then be sure to check out our Coming Soon feature, where we currently have titles for January through April listed. Please note that we have not included every book coming out, but rather some that caught our eye --- and that we thought should catch yours as well.
Click here to see our Coming Soon feature.

This Week's Reviews
THE FACE by Angela Hunt (Fiction)
Sarah Sims was born without a face and raised in a CIA enclave hidden in an ancient island convent. When her Aunt Renee finally finds her, Sarah is 20 and a computer intelligence expert. She is also resigned to spending her life hidden away where no one can see what passes for her face. Or is she? Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

BONE BY BONE by Carol O’Connell (Mystery)
A cold case is reopened when the bones of a young boy start showing up on his father’s front porch. So many bones. Soon, the authorities discover that the bones belong to at least two different people. After so long, is there any chance of catching the killer? Reviewed by Kate Ayers.

CRUEL INTENT by J.A. Jance (Suspense)
In CRUEL INTENT, J.A. Jance delivers another dead-on thriller chock full of suspense and intrigue with bodies aplenty. Ali Reynolds has returned to Arizona and becomes embroiled in a nasty case of accumulating dead bodies that became that way at the hands of a monomaniacal serial killer. Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum.

THE NIGHT STALKER by James Swain (Thriller)
Days away from execution, notorious serial killer Abb Grimes reaches out to ex-cop Jack Carpenter with a surprising request. Abb’s grandson was lured from his home. The cops are convinced that the boy’s father --- Abb’s troubled son, Jed --- is behind the disappearance, but Jack is not so sure. With a personal connection to the kidnapped child, Jack takes the case, and that’s when the situation goes from terrifying to fatal. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

COLLEGE GIRL by Patricia Weitz (Fiction)
COLLEGE GIRL is a vivid portrait of life on a college campus and a poignant look at what happens to a 20-year-old college senior (and her self-esteem) when she loses her virginity and falls for the wrong guy. Patricia Weitz’s debut novel will resonate with anyone who remembers the often awkward transition from adolescence to adulthood. Reviewed by Sarah Hannah Gómez.

BAD TRAFFIC: An Inspector Jian Novel by Simon Lewis (Thriller)
Inspector Jian is a tough Chinese cop who thinks he's seen it all. But his search for his missing daughter takes him to the meanest streets he's ever faced. Migrant worker Ding Ming is distressed --- his gang master is making demands, he owes a lot of money to the snakeheads, and no one will tell him where his wife has been taken. Two desperate men, lost in a baffling foreign land, are pitted against a ruthless band of human traffickers in this breathtaking thriller. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

STREET GANG: The Complete History of Sesame Street by Michael Davis (Arts & Entertainment)
In a fascinating history, television critic Michael Davis details how a motley gang of educators, television professionals, musicians, actors and puppeteers got to Sesame Street. STREET GANG traces the evolution of the show from its inspiration in the civil rights movement through its many ups and downs via the remarkable personalities who have contributed to it. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

MUSIC QUICKENS TIME by Daniel Barenboim (Music/Essays)
Noted pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim doesn’t just make music --- he thinks about it a lot, and about how it can impact a listener’s life and politics. In this slim volume of essays, he tackles not only musical issues but the whole question of Arab-Israeli relations, a subject that has engaged his attention for many years. He thinks music can tell us important things about this seemingly intractable issue. Reviewed by Robert Finn.

Read this week's reviews here.

Poll and Question of the Week: Early 2009 Titles and Reading Resolutions

Which of the following just released and upcoming titles are you most looking forward to reading? Check as many as apply.

AMONG THE MAD: A Maisie Dobbs Novel, by Jacqueline Winspear
THE ASSOCIATE by John Grisham
LETHAL LEGACY by Linda Fairstein
MOUNTING FEARS by Stuart Woods
NIGHT AND DAY: A Jesse Stone Novel, by Robert B. Parker
ON THE GRIND: A Shane Scully Novel, by Stephen J. Cannell
PLUM SPOOKY: A Stephanie Plum Between-the-Numbers Novel, by Janet Evanovich
RUN FOR YOUR LIFE by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
THE SILENT MAN by Alex Berenson
TRUE COLORS by Kristin Hannah
VERY VALENTINE by Adriana Trigiani
WE'LL ALWAYS HAVE PARIS: Stories, by Ray Bradbury
WHILE MY SISTER SLEEPS by Barbara Delinsky
None of the above

-Click here to answer our poll.


What is your reading resolution for 2009?

-Click here to answer our question.

Word of Mouth: Tell Us What You're Reading --- TWO Prizes
Tell us what books YOU are reading and loving --- or even those you don't.

This week we have two great prizes: FIVE readers each will win a copy of ECLIPSE by Richard North Patterson and MOUNTING FEARS by Stuart Woods. Tell us what you are reading and rate the titles 1-5 by noon on January 23rd to ensure that you are in the running to win these books.
Need more details about Word of Mouth? Click here.

As always, here are a few housekeeping notes. If you are seeing this newsletter in a text version, and would prefer to see the graphics, you can either read it online or change your preferences below.

Those of you who wish to send mail to, please see the form on the Write to Us page.  If you would like to reach me, please write [email protected]. Writing any of the respond buttons below will not get to us.

Those who are subscribed to the newsletter by January 31, 2009 automatically are entered in our Monthly Newsletter Contest. This month one winner will be selected to win the following five books: THE ASSOCIATE by John Grisham, ECLIPSE by Richard North Patterson, ON THE GRIND: A Shane Scully Novel by Stephen J. Cannell, PLUM SPOOKY: A Stephanie Plum Between-the-Numbers Novel by Janet Evanovich and STILL ALICE by Lisa Genova. Kathy from Apalachin, NY
was last month's newsletter winner. She won BORN TO RUN by James Grippando, THE CHARLEMAGNE PURSUIT by Steve Berry, THE INDEPENDENCE OF MISS MARY BENNET by Colleen McCullough, THE MESSENGER by Jan Burke and SCARPETTA by Patricia Cornwell.

Happy reading! Don't forget to forward this newsletter to a friend or to visit our other websites from,,,,, and

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