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October 23, 2009 Newsletter October 23, 2009
Hobbes, Madame Defarge, Cheese and Cake Mixes...and How They Came Together....

I love Halloween. On tap this weekend, I am in search of tiger stripe fabric so I can create a Hobbes costume for Cory as he and his friend Stephen want to be Calvin and Hobbes for Halloween. Of course, I have combed the Internet trying to FIND a Hobbes costume, or a tiger costume. I found one in kids’ size 2. Where is a Tony the Tiger costume when I need it? Oh well, what would Halloween be without costume drama. Am I a bad mother if I suggest to him that he reprise the really cool retro ghost costume from a few years ago? Seriously, the year he only wanted a white cotton sheet was really quite lovely.

My older son found these instructions, but I think that sounds lame. I can do better than that. If I get desperate, this one is $129, and considering how long it will take to make the costume, this is sounding like a bargain. Wait, that is from Hong Kong! Can you imagine the shipping? Any of you readers with a Hobbes costume hanging around, shoot me a note and save me.

Last weekend I was knitting a sweater during the panels at the Bouchercon mystery convention, and one of my colleagues teased me that night saying I looked like Madame Defarge across the room working the needles. I confess I needed the literary reference on this, and thus hit Google when I got back to my room and there it was...the knitting revolutionary from A TALE OF TWO CITIES. Very amusing.

Bouchercon was terrific. I spent a lot of time with Joe Hartlaub, our esteemed mystery/suspense/thriller reviewer. During our conversations I realized that I have not shared that Joe is an author in his own right, with short stories in both the THRILLER 2 and DARK DELICACIES III anthologies. So for all you Joe Hartlaub fans out there, be sure to check them out.


We caught up with Ali Karim, who is Assistant Editor of the e-zine Shots, a contributing editor at January Magazine and a writer for Deadly Pleasures and Crimespree magazines. We usually only get to see Ali once or twice a year, but his enthusiasm is beyond contagious. Also, while many will not believe this possible, Ali is someone who has even more energy than me. Last year, he turned me on to Stieg Larsson, and I felt like until I read it, I would not be able to see him again. THAT is how brilliantly enthusiastic his lobby for THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO was. Thus we had a great chat about that, THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE and THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET'S NEST, the third book in the trilogy, which he already has read and raves about. I want to interview Ali here soon as I enjoy hearing him share the British sensibility about books, especially mysteries and thrillers. Seeing Ali also inspired this week's poll and question about "book guilt."


I also got to meet Susie Schachte, who is the Multi Media Supervisor for Greenwood Public Library in Indiana --- and one of our readers. She had been interviewed by us on a while back, and it was terrific to put together a name and a face. Love moments like that.


And it was authors authors authors. I met Chelsea Cain, and as I had read all three of her books, she asked me to rank them...I said 1-3-2, and then we chatted about why. Mark T. Sullivan shared more about his upcoming book, which sounds fascinating. He had just tracked down the one confirmation on his lead character that he was missing --- and we talked about his latest announcement. You can now download THE PURIFICATION CEREMONY, the first of six novels that will be free through his website in the coming months. Mark is a terrific writer, so these will be a real treat for readers. Keith Raffel is on tour with SMASHER, his new book that Joe reviews this week. After reading both of his books, I found myself wanting to ask how Rowena was over dinner. Luckily, I caught myself in time remembering that Rowena was his character, not his wife. Sometimes they do all blend together in my head.


Michael Connelly proved on more than one occasion during the weekend that he is one of the most gracious authors who I ever have met. He won the Anthony Award for Best Novel the other night in addition to being the event’s honoree. We have the full list of Anthony Award winners here. I never will be able to recall every conversation or encounter that happened last weekend, or my experiences with many of the readers there (from one report I saw there, it was noted that 1,700 authors and readers were in attendance), but it made for great memories. Oh, and chunky yarn and big needles mean the sweater was just about done by the time I flew home, making this one really successful weekend. Take that, Madame Defarge! Though be clear, at no point was I knitting to secretly encode the names of those people I will have killed. There is a difference between us!

While I was in Indianapolis, Erin Quinn from our staff was in Michigan on Monday night and she caught Rita Mae Brown as she started off her book tour for ANIMAL MAGNETISM in Ann Arbor. With a packed crowd at the Ann Arbor District Library, Rita Mae held the audience captive with her entertaining stories and convictions. In her newest book, ANIMAL MAGNETISM, she shares the lessons she has learned from the animals she surrounds herself with --- cats, dogs and horses --- and her deep appreciation for these marvelous creatures.

Erin joined me Wednesday night at a cheese tasting event sponsored by Women’s Media Group where Liz Thorpe from Murrays’ Cheese Shop in the West Village in New York was our guide for the evening. Erin, who is a “fellow mouse” with a love of cheese, and I had such a lovely time sampling and learning about cheese. Liz has written a book called THE CHEESE CHRONICLES that we both want to check out. I can see myself at the cheese counter at my local store over the weekend trying to test out my newfound knowledge.

I love to cook, but am a lot less fond of baking. However, when I do bake cakes, I have a cookbook that I have been using in variations for years --- THE CAKE MIX DOCTOR, which spawned CHOCOLATE FROM THE CAKE MIX DOCTOR and CUPCAKES! FROM THE CAKE MIX DOCTOR (I was a hit at my sons’ elementary school with that one!). Thus I was thrilled to find THE CAKE MIX DOCTOR RETURNS! on the shelf at the office recently with...gasp...160 all-new recipes. I am flagging pages of things I want to try.

This week I finished a fabulous book called ALICE I HAVE BEEN by Melanie Benjamin, which is coming out in January. It’s a novel based on the life of Alice Liddell, who was the real life Alice in Wonderland. I started reading it on the flight home, and though this was such a busy week, I found myself stealing moments away to read it whenever I could. The historical details are so rich, the story is so well drawn, and I was completely swept up in it. I think you really are going to love it.


When I was in Indianapolis, I finished CRASHERS, a thriller novel by Dana Haynes, which will be out next summer. (I know I know….I need to stop reading so far ahead!) It’s the story of a National Transportation Safety Board team that is analyzing a plane crash --- a fascinating look into what happens after things go wrong. It’s a page-turner and so realistically written that when we hit some turbulence on the flight west and the pilot said “Fasten seatbelts,” I was in a full panic that life was imitating art.


This week is Teen Read Week, which is brought to readers by the Young Adult Librarian Services Association (YALSA). There’s a great blog piece on that gives some background on the event. Speaking of teens, I am very proud to share that the results of our 2009 Reader Survey will be the cover story in Publishers Weekly on Monday, where they were gracious enough to have me write the piece, which was a ton of fun to do.

The past few weeks we received some great comments and questions from our advance readers of 13 1/2 by Nevada Barr, SILENT KILLER by Beverly Barton and CRUSH by Alan Jacobson. This week, we are sharing the authors’ responses to our readers’ questions. Please click on their names above to read them.

I was hoping to get up to Boston this weekend for the Boston Book Festival, but my schedule this fall is so hectic that this is the only free weekend I have between now and Thanksgiving, so I am hunkered down here. (I want to pick out new lighting for the outside of the house and I feel like it's now, or spring.) If any of our readers do attend, I would love to hear about it!

For the record, remember the hour we lost last spring for Daylight Savings Time? Well, I need it back. NOW. Those precious 60 minutes definitely are missed. And these dark mornings are not working for me when it’s also dark by 6:00 at night. I know this since there have been some gorgeous sunsets out the window of my New York office this week. Have a great weekend. We will be rooting for the Yankees in my neck of the woods. Here’s hoping you find something great to read.

Carol Fitzgerald ([email protected])

Now in Stores: WINDFALL by Penny Vincenzi
WINDFALL by Penny Vincenzi (Fiction)
Penny Vincenzi takes us behind closed doors of the glamorous and scandalous English aristocracy. The dutiful doctor’s wife, Cassia Tallow, has just inherited a large fortune from her godmother. Newly empowered, Cassia sheds her domestic burdens and re-forms old relationships --- one of them of a most dangerous kind. Too soon the windfall has become a corrupting force --- one that Cassia cannot resist. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

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


Now in Stores: THE SCARPETTA FACTOR by Patricia Cornwell

THE SCARPETTA FACTOR by Patricia Cornwell (Mystery)
Patricia Cornwell’s 17th novel in the Kay Scarpetta series finds the medical examiner and all her regular cohorts in the heart of New York City during the Christmas season. While negotiating for a series on CNN to be called “The Scarpetta Factor,” Scarpetta and her friends are thrust into a series of murders that not only may be related but also could lead to an old nemesis who is still hunting her. Reviewed by Ray Palen.

-Click here to read an excerpt from THE SCARPETTA FACTOR.

Click here to read a review of THE SCARPETTA FACTOR.


Now in Stores: WHAT THE DOG SAW by Malcolm Gladwell

WHAT THE DOG SAW: And Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell (Psychology/Business)
Malcolm Gladwell is a talented writer with the ability to take ordinary people and events and find lessons about life. In the past decade, this talent has placed three of his books on bestseller lists around the world. WHAT THE DOG SAW is a collection of many of Gladwell’s early writings from his reporting days at The New Yorker. Entertaining and prescient observations about success, failure and human nature are his stock and trade. Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman.

Click here to read a review of WHAT THE DOG SAW.


Author Talk: Keith Raffel, Author of SMASHER

Silicon Valley software entrepreneur turned thriller writer Keith Raffel once again explores the ruthlessness of corporate life in his second novel, SMASHER. In this interview, Raffel discusses how he transitioned between his two careers, and shares some of the imaginary and real-life influences behind the characters in his latest book. He also compares publishing a book to starting a company, sheds light on some of the less-than-glamorous aspects of life as an author, and reflects on how his hometown of Palo Alto, CA has evolved over the years.

SMASHER: A Silicon Valley Thriller by Keith Raffel (Thriller)
As Accelenet CEO Ian Michaels battles a ruthless Silicon Valley billionaire for control of his company, his wife, deputy D.A. Rowena Goldberg, is targeted for death by an unknown assassin. Michaels must use his brains and business acumen to navigate a deadly trail of corporate and academic hostility, greed and revenge as he races to find the assailant. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read a review of SMASHER.
-Click here to read an excerpt from SMASHER.
-Visit Keith Raffel's official website,

Click here to read an interview with Keith Raffel.’s 2009 World Series Roundup

It’s that time of year again. The leaves are turning red, and so are the cheeks of those sitting in the bone-chilling stands watching postseason action. Several new books examine some of the most exciting World Series matchups in history (with just one featuring the New York Yankees). And’s Ron Kaplan isn’t exaggerating when he says “history.” Some of these titles go back practically to the roots of the ultimate interleague smackdown.
Click here to read our roundup of World Series books.'s New Sneak Peek Feature: An Early Look at an Upcoming Book --- Our First Featured Title: STILL MISSING by Chevy Stevens
"A heart-pounding debut. Stevens pulls out all the stops in this cat-and-mouse battle between a brilliant psychopath and his tenacious victim. By equal turns clever and compelling, STILL MISSING is the not-to-be missed thriller of the year."
––Lisa Gardner, New York Times bestselling author of THE NEIGHBOR

-Click here to read more about STILL MISSING.

At, we have the opportunity to read many great books well in advance of their release dates. Now, with our Sneak Peek Feature/Contest, we are offering our readers the chance to preview select early picks --- and share feedback on them. We know that readers champion books that they love, and we want you to be part of the excitement of upcoming releases as early as possible.

We are kicking off the Sneak Peek Feature with STILL MISSING, Chevy Stevens’s chilling debut suspense/thriller novel releasing in July 2010. We have 60 specially formatted early reader editions to give away to readers who would like to read the book and share their comments about it. We really want to hear what you have to say about STILL MISSING, so if you will have time to read it in early-mid November, please enter this contest. If not, we plan to have more opportunities like this in the future.

To enter, fill out this form and answer the following question by Wednesday, October 28th at 11:59PM.

What other suspense/thriller authors do you usually read?

Once the copies of STILL MISSING have been shipped, we will contact our winners and ask them to respond with their thoughts on the book.

STILL MISSING by Chevy Stevens (Thriller)
On the day she was abducted, Annie O’Sullivan, a 32-year-old realtor, had three goals --- sell a house, forget about a recent argument with her mother, and be on time for dinner with her ever-patient boyfriend. The open house is slow, but when her last visitor pulls up in a van as she's about to leave, Annie thinks it just might be her lucky day after all. Interwoven with the story of the year Annie spent as the captive of a psychopath in a remote mountain cabin, which unfolds through sessions with her psychiatrist, is a second narrative recounting events following her escape --- her struggle to piece her shattered life back together and the ongoing police investigation into the identity of her captor.

The truth doesn’t always set you free.

STILL MISSING is that rare debut find --- a shocking, visceral, brutal and beautifully crafted novel.

Click here to read all the details of our Sneak Peek Feature/Contest.

Featured Historical Fiction Author: Sandra Brown, Author of RAINWATER
Sandra Brown is the author of more than 50 New York Times bestsellers --- including most recently SMASH CUT and SMOKE SCREEN --- and is the recipient of the 2008 Thriller Master Award from International Thriller Writers, Inc. In RAINWATER, her historical fiction debut releasing on November 3rd, Brown delivers a powerful story set during the desperate and often violent time of the Great Depression.

-Click here to read a second excerpt from RAINWATER.
-Click here to read Sandra Brown’s bio.
-Click here to see Sandra Brown’s backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for Sandra Brown.
-Visit Sandra Brown’s official website,
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

More about RAINWATER:
From acclaimed bestselling author Sandra Brown comes a powerfully moving novel celebrating the gifts, generosity and foresight of a great bygone generation. Centered around an independent woman who runs a Texas boarding house during the Dust Bowl and a mysterious boarder, RAINWATER tells a story that bears witness to a bittersweet truth: that love is worth whatever price one must pay for it.

Click here to read more about Sandra Brown and RAINWATER.

Featured Debut Suspense/Thriller Author: Craig Larsen, Author of MANIA

Debut author Craig Larsen is a member of the Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers. In MANIA, which releases on November 3rd, he delivers a riveting and critically acclaimed psychological thriller about a man struggling to come to terms with himself while his world is unraveling around him.

-Click here to read a second excerpt from MANIA.
-Click here to read Craig Larsen’s bio.
-Click here to read critical praise for MANIA.
-Visit Craig Larsen’s official website,
-Click here to view a trailer for MANIA.
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

More about MANIA:
In the bestselling tradition of Dennis Lehane’s MYSTIC RIVER and Harlen Coben’s TELL NO ONE, talented debut writer Craig Larsen delivers a page-turning, atmospheric psychological thriller. Newspaper photographer Nick Wilder has been tracking a deranged killer through the dark streets of Seattle. But when the Street Butcher claims Nick's brother as his latest victim, Nick's world is turned upside-down. As he zeroes in on the killer, Nick finds himself led in a dizzying circle back to himself. Lee Child calls MANIA "everything a great thriller should be." William Lashner says, "Craig Larsen taps into our deepest terror, that the evil we fear most resides in our own hearts."

"Larsen takes you into a disturbing world of intimate danger and dark passion."

--Harlen Coben, New York Times bestselling author


Click here to read more about Craig Larsen and MANIA.


Featured Mystery Mayhem Author: Joanne Fluke, Author of PLUM PUDDING MURDER

Like the protagonist in her popular Hannah Swensen mysteries, Joanne Fluke was born and raised in a small town in rural Minnesota. In PLUM PUDDING MURDER, the newest addition to the series, Fluke offers a delightful holiday-themed mystery. The yuletide season in Lake Eden, Minnesota, guarantees a white Christmas, delectable holiday goodies from Hannah Swensen's bakery, The Cookie Jar --- and murder. PLUM PUDDING MURDER is now available in stores.

-Click here to read a second excerpt from PLUM PUDDING MURDER.
-Click here to read Joanne Fluke’s bio.
-Click here to see Joanne Fluke’s backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for PLUM PUDDING MURDER.
-Visit Joanne Fluke’s official website,

-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

New York Times bestselling author Joanne Fluke serves up a deliciously deadly holiday treat with her new Hannah Swensen mystery. PLUM PUDDING MURDER includes 12 original dessert recipes, including recipes for a complete Christmas dinner.


Click here to read more about Joanne Fluke and PLUM PUDDING MURDER.


Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: John Lutz, Author of URGE TO KILL

Award-winning thriller author John Lutz began writing in 1966 and has since gone on to publish over 40 novels and 200 short stories. His work includes SWF SEEKS SAME, which became the film Single White Female, and THE EX, a critically acclaimed feature for HBO. In URGE TO KILL, veteran homicide detective Frank Quinn returns in a desperate hunt for a murdering madman. URGE TO KILL is now available in stores.

-Click here to read a third excerpt from URGE TO KILL.
-Click here to read John Lutz’s bio.
-Click here to see John Lutz’s backlist.
-Click here to read critical praise for URGE TO KILL.
-Visit John Lutz’s official website,
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

More about URGE TO KILL:
Homicide detective Frank Quinn can’t stay retired when there’s a new breed of murdering madman on the prowl. In a city terrorized by bloody brutality, Det. Quinn and his team hunt a psychopath who lures beautiful women into a night of unbridled passion, then wakes them to a vicious, drawn-out death. Stumbling over a trail of horribly defiled bodies, Quinn can’t catch the killer --- because the killer’s about to catch him.

The terrifying new thriller URGE TO KILL from New York Times bestselling author John Lutz is a gruesome, page-turning psychological serial killer crime novel that’s both frightening and fascinating. For a killer, once is never enough.


Click here to read more about John Lutz and URGE TO KILL.

What's New on the Blog
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:

-Talking with Matthew Pearl
Book Clubs in the News
-Penguin Classics: A Literary Makeover
-Book Clubs: Making a Difference
-Meet Betsy, Tacy and Tib
-Shelley Frisch: A Story Stranger than Fiction
-Miklos Vamos: Kisses to the American Readers
-The Story Behind BO'S CAFE
-Matthew Pearl: THE LAST DICKENS and the Exciting History (Really!) of the Publishing Industry
-Jamie Ford's Top 10 Most Memorable Book Group Moments

For those of you who use RSS feeds to keep track of your favorite blogs, you can now add the blog to your list by clicking the link on the blog page.

Click here to read the Blog.

This Week's Reviews
SOUTH OF BROAD by Pat Conroy (Fiction)
Against the sumptuous backdrop of Charleston, South Carolina, SOUTH OF BROAD gathers a unique cast of sinners and saints. The ties among them endure for years, surviving marriages happy and troubled, unrequited loves and unspoken longings, hard-won successes and devastating breakdowns, and Charleston's dark legacy of racism and class divisions. But the final test of friendship that brings them to San Francisco is something no one is prepared for. Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott.

-Click here to read an excerpt from SOUTH OF BROAD.
-Click here to see the reading group guide for SOUTH OF BROAD.

SPARTAN GOLD: A Fargo Adventure by Clive Cussler with Grant Blackwood (Thriller/Action & Adventure)
When it comes to explosive, adrenaline-charged adventure, Clive Cussler is hailed as "the master of building suspense and tension." Now Cussler (along with co-author and U.S. Navy veteran Grant Blackwood) unveils his newest heroes, a husband-and-wife team who hunt treasure for a living --- even at the risk of dying. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

BRIGHT-SIDED: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America by Barbara Ehrenreich (Current Affairs)
BRIGHT-SIDED takes dead aim at the whole idea of “positive thinking,” which, in its most extreme forms, tell us that we can have anything and everything we want if we just wish for it ardently enough. Part history, part social comment, part cautionary tale, this is a worthy successor to Ehrenreich’s two most recent books in a similar vein, NICKEL AND DIMED and BAIT AND SWITCH. Warning: If you are an incurable optimist, this book could be dangerous to your health. Reviewed by Robert Finn.

THE MAN WHO LOVED BOOKS TOO MUCH: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession by Allison Hoover Bartlett (True Crime)
Rare-book theft is even more widespread than fine-art theft. Most thieves, of course, steal for profit. John Charles Gilkey steals purely for the love of books. In an attempt to understand him better, journalist Allison Hoover Bartlett plunged herself into the world of book lust and discovered just how dangerous it can be. Reviewed by Roz Shea.

FACES IN THE FIRE by T. L. Hines (Supernatural Thriller/Mystery)
Somewhere underneath the lives of the ordinary are the “bottom feeders,” those who blend in with everyone else but have something to hide or to run from. FACES IN THE FIRE enters the realm of the noir, telling a story of lost souls who have become trapped by their choices and whose experiences seem to be linked by one bizarre number. Reviewed by Melanie Smith.

ONE AND THE SAME: My Life as an Identical Twin and What I've Learned About Everyone's Struggle to Be Singular by Abigail Pogrebin (Memoir)
Abigail Pogrebin, an identical twin, shares her own poignant experience of being one half of this unique relationship. She also includes eye-opening tales from other twins and experts' findings and opinions, making for a fascinating read. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

HARVARD BEATS YALE 29-29 by Kevin Rafferty (Sports)
In November 1968, undefeated Harvard met undefeated Yale in the final game of their football season. Filmmaker Kevin Rafferty initially decided that a documentary film of the game was a worthy subject. He succeeded brilliantly. HARVARD BEATS YALE 29-29 supplements the movie with material that might normally end up on the cutting-room floor of the editing room. Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman.

Read this week's reviews here.

Poll and Question of the Week: Book Guilt

Do you experience “book guilt” if you haven’t read a book that everyone else seems to have read?

I am not sure.

-Click here to answer our poll.


Name up to three books published in the last decade that you have not yet read that you have “book guilt” about not reading.

-Click here to answer our question.

Word of Mouth: Tell Us What You're Reading --- and You Can Win THREE Books!
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 FORD COUNTY: Stories by John Grisham, KINDRED IN DEATH by J. D. Robb and KNIT THE SEASON: A Friday Night Knitting Club Novel by Kate Jacobs. Tell us what you are reading and rate the titles 1-5 by noon on November 6th 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 a href="mailto:[email protected]" target="_blank">[email protected]. Writing any of the respond buttons below will not get to us.

Those who are subscribed to the newsletter by October 31, 2009 automatically are entered in our Monthly Newsletter Contest. This month, one winner will be selected to win the following five books: 9 DRAGONS by Michael Connelly, LAST NIGHT IN A TWISTED RIVER by John Irving, LOCKED IN: A Sharon McCone Mystery by Marcia Muller, PURSUIT OF HONOR by Vince Flynn and TRUE BLUE by David Baldacci. Terri from Jacksonville, FL was last month's newsletter winner. She won AN ECHO IN THE BONE by Diana Gabaldon, HAVE A LITTLE FAITH: A True Story by Mitch Albom, HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY by Audrey Niffenegger, THE LAST SONG by Nicholas Sparks and THE PROMISED WORLD by Lisa Tucker.

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

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