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January 30, 2009 Newsletter January 30, 2009
T Minus 2 Days 'Til the End of Mercury Retrograde
Mercury has been retrograde since January 11th. Wonder what this means? It refers to a planet that, when viewed from earth, appears to have stopped and temporarily reversed itself. In astrology, when we are talking about Mercury, the planet of communication being retrograde, this planetary phenomenon leads to unexpected delays, frustrations and more than the usual surprises in life. Let's just say this week I was positive that I was the little epicenter for Mercury Retrograde. Tuesday I was on my way from Denver to Colorado Springs to see some publishing contacts when I noticed on my BlackBerry that I could check in for my Wednesday 7:15AM flight. Well, that would have been nice, except I was not booked on that flight. I was booked on the Tuesday night 5:20PM flight. The one that was cancelled. I had just left a great hotel where, as I walked out the door, they said, "Come back soon." I immediately called and said I was taking them up on their offer and would be back that night.

Now a flight at 7:15 in the morning means I get to see every 15 minutes tick by on the clock the night before the plane leaves since I remain convinced I WILL miss it. By the end of the night I had great practice at waking up. Of course I had some practice from the previous Saturday, napping from 3-6AM anticipating the 8:30AM plane. Who needs an alarm? Ah, but you know how I complain about the calls on storm days that tell me school is closed at 5AM? Well, I now have that beat. My younger son's school district does an auto-dial phone call when school is cancelled. Of course, the auto-dial does not adjust for time change when you are in Colorado instead of NJ, thus the call came in at 3AM. The worst part was I knew that this was going to happen, but could not turn off my phone lest I miss another flight change. Everyone says that business travel is exhausting, and I finally have defined WHY. You do not sleep.
Between these moments of sleeplessness, I had a great trip. The ALA preview events got a number of upcoming titles on my radar. I also love the enthusiasm of librarians, who not only love books, but also want to be sure to find the best titles for their patrons. I sat in on a few rather interesting panels. On one, teens talked about the books that have been nominated for the Best Books for Young Adults list. It was very heartening to hear them articulately chatting about their loves and dislikes among the titles. I also sat in on the committee meeting for the Great Graphic Novels. I enjoyed hearing the banter as the team of librarians on this committee honed down their list. It was a very upbeat few days. I also got time to grab lunch with Stephen White, whose next book will be out in August. Stephen is a meticulous writer, and as he talked to me about his new book, I found myself looking forward to reading it as soon as I can. I still think about his book, KILL ME, which came out in 2006, for its message and its wonderful pacing.

I also got a lot of reading done. Adriana Trigiani’s VERY VALENTINE was my plane read on the flight home. Valentine Roncalli is a wonderful character, and as always, Adriana has laced humor into the opening that had me laughing out loud. Don’t believe me? Then read the first chapter here. Note that Adriana is a fabulous author to see on the road, and she has an extensive tour planned. You can see the tour dates here. At select locations on the tour, Adriana is going to be collecting new and gently used books for distribution through Feeding America’s nationwide network of food banks. Click here to learn more! Also note that VERY VALENTINE is one of the four giveaway titles in our Fourth Annual Valentine’s Day Contest, so enter to win now.

Continuing our Bets On... feature this week, I introduce you to my latest pick, HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET. Okay, I know Pennie from Costco also picked it as her February book, but hey, I told you about this one to watch last summer, so it’s staying on MY list as well. It’s a well-crafted and brilliantly written story that is just beautiful and made me happy to be a reader. And yes, it had me crying buckets at the end. While I have read many books that spoke about the Japanese internment during World War II, I had never focused on Seattle as a location where this took place. This week, Jamie Ford, who is a debut author, wrote a wonderful piece for us on our blog that you can read here.

John Grisham’s new book, THE ASSOCIATE, is out this week. I always enjoy Grisham’s books, and while I have not cracked this one yet, from all I have read, it’s most reminiscent of THE FIRM. From the about the book copy, the plot also reminds me of PARANOIA by Joseph Finder, which was a book I really loved. We will have our review next week, but this week we share an excerpt so you can get a look inside right now.

On a very sad note this week, we all paused to note the passing of John Updike, who was a true literary legend. Jesse Kornbluth, who founded The Book Report with me, did a wonderful interview with him for Reader’s Digest, which you can read here. Last fall, Updike, who was 76, went on the road and toured. I gave him such high marks for that. For those readers lucky enough to see him on this last swing through the country, you had a very special experience. 

Last week we posted the great feedback we received from our advance readers of TWO RIVERS by T. Greenwood and KISS by Ted Dekker and Erin Healy. This week, we are featuring the authors’ responses to our advance readers’ questions. Please click on the authors’ names to read their responses.

When first started, it actually was a website on AOL called The Book Report. We had a chat room there called Bookaccino (note we named it this thinking Starbucks might become a sponsor of the site. Yes, we were wildly naïve). For years, readers gathered there and chatted about books and authors with our Bookaccino hosts, who all had TBR prefixes in front of their names. This virtual group of readers formed strong bonds and connections. The first two years the chat room hosts had annual meetings, once in Chicago and later in St. Louis. I traveled to both locations, and it was enormously fun to meet the people behind the screen names. I think I honed my quick IM and typing skills trying to keep up with the book chatter in that room. Sadly the room was closed a few years ago, but many of the group members still stay in touch, which is quite wonderful. This Sunday, February 1st from 7-11PM (ET) they will be having a reunion online, and I wanted to note this here for all of our readers who were once Bookaccino regulars. It will take place here: Chatzy - Bookaccino Reunion. And to the organizers of this event, thank you for a flood of really great memories. I remember the early days when it was just Jesse and me in the chat room. As people joined us, it made us realize that this site might be just a bit bigger than the two of us. We now have more than 660,000 unique visitors each month, which tells me that we truly have come a long way. But we never have forgotten those early days where we met readers in 'cino to chat.

I am pulling for Arizona in the Super Bowl. Hearing Larry Fitzgerald's name always gets a cheer in our house. Cory has a Fitzgerald jersey that we just got him. Pretty cool. Have a great week....curl up with a book whenever you can.

Carol Fitzgerald ([email protected])

Now in Stores: THE ASSOCIATE by John Grisham
THE ASSOCIATE by John Grisham (Legal Thriller)
Kyle McAvoy grew up in his father’s small-town law office in York, Pennsylvania. He excelled in college, was elected editor-in-chief of The Yale Law Journal, and his future has limitless potential. But Kyle has a secret, a dark one, an episode from college that he has tried to forget. The secret, though, falls into the hands of the wrong people, and Kyle is forced to take a job he doesn’t want --- even though it’s a job most law students can only dream about.

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE ASSOCIATE.

Click here to read more about THE ASSOCIATE. Talks to Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush, Authors of WICKED GAME

Sisters Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush, who have written over 120 books between them, recently teamed up to pen the romantic suspense novel WICKED GAME. In this interview with's Amie Taylor, Bush discusses how they created the book's backstory and setting and recounts their first disastrous attempt at co-authorship almost 30 years ago, while Jackson credits her sister for giving her the initial push to start writing and muses on the difficulties of turning ideas into full-length novels. They also describe the positive aspects of working together and share details about their follow-up title to WICKED GAME, tentatively called WICKED LIES.

WICKED GAME by Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush (Romantic Suspense)
Twenty years ago, wayward teen Jessie Brentwood disappeared without a trace, leaving her friends to deal with the aftermath and carry the mystery of her disappearance with them for years to come. Now the remains of a young female have been found buried in the maze on the school campus, and old ghosts are coming back to haunt the survivors. Reviewed by Amie Taylor.

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


Click here to read our interview with Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush.

"An impressive, bitter, and sweet debut."
-- Lisa See, bestselling author of SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN
HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET is a love story about two people who come from totally different worlds. Their story is about the conflicts between generations and cultures and how decades later they can heal the barriers and betrayals that separate them.
Inspired by history and his own family story, Jamie Ford’s debut novel is a perfect read for book clubs and introduces a talented new literary voice.

-Click here to watch an interview with Jamie Ford.
-Click here to watch a video in which Jamie Ford narrates a tour of the Seattle neighborhood where Japanese lives were disrupted at the start of World War II.

Visit Jamie Ford's official website,, to learn more about HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET.'s Fourth Annual Valentine's Day Contest --- Enter to Win a Romantic Basket for Yourself or Your Valentine
The countdown to Valentine's Day is on! Stuck on what to buy your Valentine? Our featured titles have the bookish answer. From January 23rd through February 6th, readers will have the chance to win one of our five Valentine's Day Baskets. They are filled with one copy of each of our featured books. Whether you are looking for a humorous tale, a heartwarming love story or an escape into the world of paranormal romance, our Valentine's Day suggestions are sure to satisfy whatever you’re craving to give on this holiday.

Our featured Valentine’s Day titles are:

-NIGHT'S PLEASURE by Amanda Ashley
-ONE TRUE THEORY OF LOVE by Laura Fitzgerald
-VERY VALENTINE by Adriana Trigiani

Click here to read all the contest details.

Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: Linda Fairstein, Author of LETHAL LEGACY
New York Times bestselling author Linda Fairstein is one of America's foremost legal experts on crimes of sexual assault and domestic violence. In her newest Alex Cooper novel, LETHAL LEGACY, Fairstein takes readers on a breathtaking ride through the valuable first editions, lost atlases and secret rooms and tunnels of the great New York Public Library. LETHAL LEGACY will be available in stores on February 10th.

-Click here to read a second excerpt from LETHAL LEGACY.
-Click here to read Linda Fairstein’s bio.
-Click here to see Linda Fairstein's backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for LETHAL LEGACY.
-Visit Linda Fairstein's official website,
-Click here to see our finished copy winners.

When Assistant District Attorney Alex Cooper is summoned to Tina Barr’s apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, she finds a neighbor convinced that the young woman was assaulted. But the terrified victim, a conservator of rare books and maps, refuses to cooperate with investigators. Then another woman is found murdered in that same apartment with an extremely valuable book, believed to have been stolen. As Alex pursues the murderer, she is drawn into the strange and privileged world of the Hunt family, major benefactors of the New York Public Library and passionate rare book collectors.

Click here to read more about Linda Fairstein and LETHAL LEGACY.

New in Paperback for January
January’s roundup of New in Paperback titles includes KILLER HEAT by Linda Fairstein, a page-turning mix of cutting-edge legal issues and forensics, New York City history and spine-tingling suspense; Janet Evanovich’s PLUM LUCKY, a Stephanie Plum Between-the-Numbers holiday treat celebrating St. Patrick's Day, complete with little men in green, a racehorse, Atlantic City casinos and the mysterious Diesel; FIREFLY LANE, in which Kristin Hannah follows accomplished, independent Tully Hart and loyal, capable Kate Mularkey through three-and-a-half decades of friendship; THINGS I WANT MY DAUGHTERS TO KNOW, Elizabeth Noble’s heartfelt novel that celebrates the love between a dying mother and her daughters and the endless possibilities of life; THE WINTER ROSE, the second book in Jennifer Donnelly’s The Tea Rose trilogy that follows the story of Charlie Finnegan (now Sid Malone) and aristocrat India Selwyn Jones; and THE GEOGRAPHY OF BLISS, which takes readers from America to Iceland to India in search of happiness, or, in Eric Weiner’s case, moments of "un-unhappiness."
Click here to see our New in Paperback feature for January. Bets On...: Books We're Betting You'll Love
With thousands of books published each year and much attention paid to the works of bestselling and well-known authors, it is inevitable that some titles worthy of praise and discussion may not get the attention we think they deserve. Thus throughout 2009, we will be spotlighting books written by debut or up-and-coming authors that immediately struck a chord with us and made us say “just read this” in a new feature called " Bets On…" Our plan is to alert our readers about these titles as soon as they’re released so you can discover them for yourselves and recommend them to your family and friends.

Here is our latest featured title, with more to come in the weeks ahead:

HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET by Jamie Ford (January 27th): Henry Lee comes upon the Panama Hotel in Seattle, where the new owner has found a treasure trove of belongings that were left there by Japanese families who were taken to internment camps during World War II. Henry, who is of Chinese heritage, reflects back on a young Japanese woman, Keiko Okabe, with whom he had an innocent but profound love. He searches the hotel looking for anything that may remind him of Keiko's family. His reminiscences as well as his internal conflicts create a beautiful story of hope, forgiveness and the power of love.

-Click here to read a review of HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET.
-Click here to read an excerpt from
-Click here to read an interview with Jamie Ford.

Click here to see all the titles we're betting you'll love.

Now in Stores: IN THE SHADOW OF THE MASTER edited by Michael Connelly
IN THE SHADOW OF THE MASTER: Classic Tales by Edgar Allan Poe edited by Michael Connelly (Mystery Anthology)
Few have crafted stories as haunting as those by Edgar Allan Poe. To commemorate the 200th anniversary of Poe's birth, the Mystery Writers of America presents a collection of 16 of his best tales accompanied by 20 essays from beloved authors, including Nelson DeMille, Lawrence Block, Sara Paretsky and Joseph Wambaugh, on how Poe has changed their life and work. Reviewed by Tom Callahan.

-Click here to read an excerpt from IN THE SHADOW OF THE MASTER.

Click here to read a review of IN THE SHADOW OF THE MASTER.

Now in Stores: NEMESIS: The Final Case of Eliot Ness, by William Bernhardt
NEMESIS: The Final Case of Eliot Ness by William Bernhardt (Suspense)
Eliot Ness’s final case turns out to be his toughest. Catching the Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run ends up being more difficult than capturing Al Capone. Is Ness up to the challenge this time? Based on true events and new discoveries about Eliot Ness, NEMESIS features this legendary lawman’s fateful duel with America’s first serial killer. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.

-Click here to read an excerpt from NEMESIS: The Final Case of Eliot Ness.

Click here to read a review of NEMESIS: The Final Case of Eliot Ness.

What's New on
We are pleased to share that, the newest addition to The Book Report Network, is quickly becoming the premier destination on the web for everything related to graphic novels --- news and reviews, interviews with writers and artists, behind-the-scenes peeks at the creative process, podcasts and videos, a blog and more. has updated once again with exciting new content. Several interesting creator interviews lead off the update, including David B. (Nocturnal Conspiracies, Epileptic), Nate Powell (Swallow Me Whole) and independent writer Felix Tannenbaum (Chronicles of Some Made). The interviews are a diverse mixture of people, offering some unique views on the publishing business and their roles in it, as well speaking on the craft of creating itself.

As comics and manga continue to expand their reach in the classroom and in libraries, we thought it would be interesting to ask librarians about the issues they face. Four librarians shared their opinions and thoughts in our Roundtable feature, talking about how the format is stocked in their libraries, reaction from staff and patrons, and how visitors to the library are being served. It's a very intriguing read for anyone interested in the future of the format and how it's respected in libraries.

In a similar vein, literary professor Dr. Katie Monnin explores the role of graphic novels and manga in children's reading habits. Even now, some people don't consider it to be really reading. Why not? Dr. Monnin explains the mistaken thought process behind it and offers help in countering it.

Plenty of new reviews, news on upcoming comics-related movies and DVDs, important matters happening around the industry, and lots more are included in this update as well. Check it out and let us know what you think by using the Comment feature.

Click here to visit

2009 ALA Youth Media Awards
Each year the American Library Association (ALA) honors books and media for children and teens. Recognized worldwide for the high quality they represent, ALA awards --- including the Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, Sibert and Coretta Scott King Book Awards --- guide parents, educators, librarians and others in selecting the best materials for youth. Selected by committees composed of librarians and other literature and media experts, the awards encourage original and creative work in the field of children’s and young adult literature and media.

-See this year’s winning titles and honor books on and

The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), the fastest-growing division of the ALA, also announced its 2009 Best Books for Young Adults, Great Graphic Novels for Teens and Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers.

-Click here to see YALSA’s Best Books for Young Adults.
-Click here to see YALSA's Great Graphic Novels for Teens.
-Click here to see YALSA's Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers.

This Week's Reviews
BREAKNECK by Erica Spindler (Thriller)
As Mary Catherine Riggio --- a detective in the police department's Violent Crimes Bureau --- prepares for her wedding, she and her partner, Kitt Lundgren, become embroiled in a race against time as a merciless killer is executing young adults with few ties to one another. What possible motive can there be? Reviewed by Kate Ayers.

A JOURNAL FOR JORDAN: A Story of Love and Honor by Dana Canedy (Memoir)
A JOURNAL FOR JORDAN is the story of a couple whose time together was all too short. Dana Canedy, a senior editor at The New York Times and First Sergeant Charles King, a career soldier, shared a love that, under normal circumstances, would have lasted several decades. But Charles died in Iraq, and Dana was left alone to raise their son, Jordan. Charles left behind a unique journal, a 200-page love letter to Jordan, and some of those very personal entries are included throughout the book. Reviewed by Carole Turner.

ANGELS AND AGES: A Short Book About Darwin, Lincoln and Modern Life by Adam Gopnik (Biography)
Born on the same date in 1809, Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin are both world historical figures. In this thoughtful and elegant joint portrait, Adam Gopnik skillfully sketches the impact of these two great men on the development of modern liberal thought. Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg.

Nine months after bringing home their adopted daughter, Angelina, Jack and Melissa McGuane receive a devastating phone call from the adoption agency: Angelina’s birth father never signed away his parental rights, and he wants her back. Worse, his dad, a powerful Denver judge, wants him to own up to this responsibility and will use every advantage his position of power affords him to make sure it happens. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

DAEMON by Daniel Suarez (Thriller)
Thousands of autonomous computer programs called daemons make our networked world possible, running constantly in the background of our lives, trafficking e-mail, transferring money and monitoring power grids. When legendary computer game designer Matthew Sobol’s obituary is posted online, a previously dormant daemon activates, initiating a chain of events intended to unravel the fabric of our hyper-efficient, interconnected world. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

HAUNTED HEART: The Life and Times of Stephen King by Lisa Rogak (Biography)
Who is the man behind those tales of horror, grief and the supernatural? Where do these ideas come from? And what drives him to keep writing at a breakneck pace after a 30-year career? In this unauthorized biography of Stephen King, Lisa Rogak reveals the troubled background and lifelong fears that inspire one of the 20th century's most influential authors. Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt.

A DARKER DOMAIN by Val McDermid (Mystery)
In this stand-alone novel, Val McDermid weaves two stories of murder into a tale of social commentary, historical significance and truly mesmerizing suspense. Two cold cases come together and the heat rises, as each one is slowly re-examined and new details come to light. Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum.

HE IS...I SAY: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Neil Diamond by David Wild (Biography)
HE IS...I SAY examines Neil Diamond’s singular place in the pantheon of popular music. David Wild --- who has interviewed Diamond for Rolling Stone, penned the liner notes to a number of Diamond’s anthologies and produced Diamond’s scandal-free episode of “Behind the Music,” offers a moving and often hilarious salute to his own Jewish Elvis, based on his interviews from over the years with the Solitary Man himself. Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum.

Read this week's reviews here.

Poll and Question of the Week: Relaxing with a Book

What is your beverage of choice when you are relaxing and reading a book?

Hot chocolate
Mineral water
A cocktail
Other (Please specify)
I am not sure I have a favorite.
I never drink when I read.

-Click here to answer our poll.


Where is your favorite place to read in your house?

-Click here to answer our question.

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

This week we have three great prizes: FIVE readers each will win a copy of THE ASSOCIATE by John Grisham, HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET by Jamie Ford and TRUE COLORS by Kristin Hannah. Tell us what you are reading and rate the titles 1-5 by noon on February 6th to ensure that you are in the running to win these books.
Need more details about Word of Mouth? Click here.


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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.

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