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December 4, 2009 Newsletter December 4, 2009

A Week of Highs

This was one eventful week. I kicked it off literally with HBO’s airing of The 25th Anniversary of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Concert. I tuned in expecting another ho-hum music event and was more than pleasantly surprised to see a show with great --- and unexpected --- pairings for the performances. It was four hours of fabulous rock and roll, and I confess I was dancing around the family room with the surround sound cranked up. I saw it as a brilliant way to exercise off the Turkey Eat-athon.

The pace continued Tuesday night when Greg and I went to see Sue Grafton’s signing. Greg has been reading Sue since he was 12, so when he saw she was in town, he asked me to go with him. There was a huge crowd, and Sue was lovely as always. She answered audience questions throughout the evening and then signed books for hours. As we waited in line, I heard readers say again and again that they love her books because they are not formulaic; each has its own great story. People were lined up with many of "the alphabet books" in hand, and I loved hearing the stories of what they had done to acquire these first editions. One woman toting a suitcase full of books was only missing F IS FOR FUGITIVE. Margot, who is one of Sue’s publicists, snapped this great picture of Greg with Sue. That night he wrote on his Facebook status that “B is for Bed after meeting L is for Legend.” I loved it! Roz Shea reviews U IS FOR UNDERTOW and shares how once again Grafton has delivered; Greg thinks it’s one of the best in the series.

Yesterday I popped over to Borders at Columbus Circle with my old friend Beverley (old as in we've known each other a long time, not old as in WE are old) for a fun event where Debbie Macomber was celebrating tomorrow night’s premiere of Doris Roberts’s (AKA the mother from "Everybody Loves Raymond") new Hallmark Channel Original Movie, Debbie Macomber’s Mrs. Miracle, based on the book of the same name. We have a picture of this fun event above where both Debbie and Doris were frolicking with a group of Santas. Once their photo op moment was done, they were off to wrap presents for customers. The film premieres at 8PM ET. Remember that Debbie’s latest holiday book, THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS, is now in stores.

Also, out this week is THE PARIS VENDETTA by Steve Berry. We at are proud to say that we have been behind Steve’s books since his very first one, and thus it’s great to have Joe Hartlaub’s review of his latest book for you this week where he says, “Berry continues to fulfill and exceed his own standards with each successive work, particularly since the introduction of Cotton Malone in THE TEMPLAR LEGACY.”

Last weekend I started reading WHY MY THIRD HUSBAND WILL BE A DOG by Lisa Scottoline. As our reviewer, Roberta O’Hara says, “WHY MY THIRD HUSBAND WILL BE A DOG will have you laughing out loud --- and then looking around to see if anyone noticed. And if they do, tell them to buy this book for every woman they know. They’ll laugh out loud, too.” I do agree. I am parsing out my reading of this to a few pieces each day so I can savor it; it’s that good. And I love the way Roberta formatted her review.

With so many new titles from old favorites and newcomers worthy of your attention, it's tough to keep up. So we have updated our Coming Soon feature, which now includes books releasing from January through April.

I am loving our holiday blog feature, and from your mail I am seeing you feel the same way. This note from Kathleen from Texas came in yesterday: “The author holiday blogs about first books, treasured books, etc., have to be some of THE BEST stories & sentiments ever. They make me smile and sometimes cry and have inspired me to give books to young children. If a book could make a difference in just one life (hopefully more) then that is the gift.” We love that she and so many others feel this way.

I want to give my sincere thanks to Marisa Emralino in our office who has been reaching out to the authors, working on the lineup and writing the terrific intros for each essay and otherwise corralling more than 60 pieces for this feature. Her email address is [email protected] if you want to add your personal thanks to her! I am getting suggestions from authors. I added “A Christmas Memory” to my Netflix queue after seeing Jill McCorkle's holiday blog piece, and I added the book to my holiday wish list. Also, you can get our blog updates sent directly by an RSS feed here or in your email here.

In our last poll about cookbooks, I learned that 33% of you, like me, have more than 50 cookbooks! One of our friends at is Amy Alessio, a terrific YA librarian from Schamuburg, IL who collects vintage cookbooks. She also has started doing library events where her Vintage Cookbook programs are one hour, and audience members will enjoy some samples of purchased gourmet treats and will leave with a packet of easy holiday recipes. Contact her at [email protected] to set up one of these events for your library!p>

Our latest Holiday Basket of Cheer brings you a collection books by one of our favorite authors, Laura Pedersen. Included is her entire Hallie Palmer series, as well as her memoir about growing up in Buffalo. And yes, we have holiday goodies as well. Enter by clicking here.

This week we're launching a new Romantic Suspense feature for Mary Burton. In DYING SCREAM, her latest novel, she pairs a detective with a wealthy widow to uncover a family's dark, twisted path. We have 10 copies to give away to readers who would like to read the book and comment about it. If you are interested, please fill out this form by Friday, December 11th.

We also have a full roundup of our Facebook page posts, which includes some neat stories ranging from "Best Of" lists to one author's rant on e-readers to Cormac McCarthy auctioning his typewriter. Check out the posts here. We're updating our Facebook page all day, every day. Not a fan yet? Or not on Facebook at all? Click here and get started!

In the sitcom that is my life, my son Greg’s car needs a new fuel pump, so he took the train back to school last Sunday. He left his suitcase here for me to carry in for him, but never told me. In said suitcase were his towels, thus after his shower he resorted to using a ShamWow that he won at school to dry off until I got the suitcase to him. For the record, I was told they are very, very absorbent in case any others among you are looking for a substitute for terrycloth. It’s not just for the car, the boat and the RV! I think he gets 'R' for Resourceful.

This week I learned that one of my favorite restaurants, Fuji Sushi, closed, another victim of the economy. It reminded me that I need to get out and support all the places that I love. These past months I was not there as often as usual, and when I was, there were many empty tables. I now wish I had been there more. So for all of you who have places you love to shop at, eat at, or otherwise patronize, the moment to share your dollars is now!

I got a new phone since I needed one to text on with a keyboard...enough with tapping on the number keys like the Morse code. Now I can text, but I cannot figure out how to answer the phone. Seriously. It rang and I hit many buttons and none was the right one. I got smart and bought my younger son the same phone; I texted him the problem. He texted back…just hit “send.” I am not sure why there is no “receive” button, but, hey, at least now I can answer.

My weekend will be about organizing my books, and okay, watching season two of "Mad Men" after I managed to watch all of season one in about 36 hours; Don and Betty Draper kept me company while cooking. My plan to only have two bookshelves in the bedroom that are pristinely managed has backfired as there are now six stacks on the floor. My birthday is Monday, so unless I want to get bookshelves for my birthday present, I have to get on this. By the way, I still am 27. It’s a good number and I am sticking with it!

Here’s to a great week… and read on….and don’t forget to shop and buy some books!

Carol Fitzgerald ([email protected])


Now in Stores: U IS FOR UNDERTOW by Sue Grafton

U IS FOR UNDERTOW by Sue Grafton (Mystery)
Kinsey Millhone is alone in her office doing paperwork when Michael Sutton, an unemployed college dropout, arrives unannounced. Twenty-one years earlier, a four-year-old girl disappeared. Sutton now believes he stumbled on her lonely burial when he was six years old, and he wants Kinsey's help in locating the child's remains and finding the men who killed her. As her investigation unfolds, she discovers that Sutton has an uneasy relationship with the truth. Reviewed by Roz Shea.

-Click here to read an excerpt from U IS FOR UNDERTOW.

Click here to read a review of U IS FOR UNDERTOW.

Author Talk: Steve Berry, Author of THE PARIS VENDETTA

Having explored some of history's biggest unanswered questions --- such as the truth behind the Romanov murders, the fate of the Templar fortune and the location of Alexander the Great's tomb --- in his seven previous works, Steve Berry turns his attention to Napoleon Bonaparte's legendary hidden cache in his latest thriller, THE PARIS VENDETTA. In this interview, Berry speculates on the appeal of this compelling but polarizing figure and describes some of the real objects, like Rommell's gold and THE REPORT FROM IRON MOUNTAIN, that fueled the book's plot. He also discusses some of the locations he visited in France in the name of research, shares details about a foundation he and his wife founded for historic preservation and restoration, and hints what's in store for protagonist Cotton Malone in his next adventure.

THE PARIS VENDETTA by Steve Berry (Thriller)
When Napoleon Bonaparte died in exile in 1821, he took to the grave a powerful secret. As general and emperor, he had stolen immeasurable riches from palaces, national treasuries, and even the Knights of Malta and the Vatican. In his final days, his British captors hoped to learn where the loot lay hidden. But he told them nothing, and in his will he made no mention of the treasure. Or did he?
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read a review of THE PARIS VENDETTA.
-Click here to read an excerpt from THE PARIS VENDETTA.


Click here to read an interview with Steve Berry.

Holiday Basket of Cheer Contest on --- Spotlight on a Collection of Titles by Laura Pedersen
The holiday season is upon us! At, this means it's time for us to share the spirit of the season with you with our Holiday Basket of Cheer Contest. While you are searching for the perfect gifts, we want to remind you that books make affordable, personal and wonderful gifts for EVERYONE on your list --- and are a nice way to treat yourself as well!

From November 13th through January 11th, we will spotlight a different title or collection of titles, and readers will have the chance to win one of five holiday baskets filled with winter-themed items as well as a copy of the featured book(s).

This week we’re spotlighting five wonderful titles by Laura Pedersen, including the first four books in her Hallie Palmer series --- BEGINNER’S LUCK, HEART’S DESIRE, THE BIG SHUFFLE and BEST BET --- and BUFFALO GAL, her hilarious memoir. Our Holiday Basket of Cheer is a woven basket stocked with holiday-themed items. Along with copies of each of the titles above, winners will receive Ghirardelli Hot Chocolate mix, gourmet hand-cut vanilla marshmallows, Peppermint bark candy, red wool gloves, a decorative holiday spatula, a snowman dish towel, cinnamon sticks, and a snowman mini planter perfect for a small tree or single bulb.

To enter, fill out this form and answer the following question by Thursday, December 10th at 11:59PM. You can find the answer by reading an excerpt from BEST BET here.

In what city has Hallie landed a job?

BEGINNER'S LUCK: Hallie Palmer Series, Book 1 by Laura Pedersen (Fiction)
BEGINNER'S LUCK is a story of belonging, and the love and courage it can instill within the human heart. And paradoxically, the freedom and feeling of independence that a sense of belonging kindles in a soul that is hungry for life in all its glories and disappointments.

-Click here to read a review of BEGINNER'S LUCK.
-Read more about Laura Pedersen and BEGINNER'S LUCK here.

HEART'S DESIRE: Hallie Palmer Series, Book 2 by Laura Pedersen (Fiction)
Card shark and former wild child Hallie Palmer is in college now, and Bernard, her former legal guardian and go-to guy for crepes suzettes, has suddenly appeared during final exams. He's hysterical that his relationship has gone down in flames and wants to enlist Hallie in a scheme to win Gil back.

-Click here to read a review of HEART'S DESIRE.
-Read more about Laura Pedersen and HEART'S DESIRE here.

THE BIG SHUFFLE: Hallie Palmer Series, Book 3 by Laura Pedersen (Fiction)
When the death of her father leaves her mother in a state of shock, card shark Hallie Palmer --- the fiery protagonist from BEGINNER’S LUCK and HEART’S DESIRE --- returns home from college to bravely deal herself in as head of a chaotic household and care for her eight younger siblings.

-Click here to read a review of THE BIG SHUFFLE.
-Read more about Laura Pedersen and THE BIG SHUFFLE here.

BEST BET: Hallie Palmer Series, Book 4 by Laura Pedersen (Fiction)
Since Hallie's father died and left behind 10 children, money at the Palmer household is tighter than ever. And just when Hallie thought she was graduating from college, it turns out she is four credits short. A professor needs one more student for a project that will take her around the world. Only longtime boyfriend Craig has another proposition for Hallie.

-Read more about Laura Pedersen and BEST BET here.

BUFFALO GAL by Laura Pederson (Memoir)span>
With its Catholic majority and proximity to Canada, Buffalo was a flash point for race riots, anti-war protests, abortion rallies, bingo, bowling and Friday night fish frys. Join the Pedersens as they survive separation, stagflation, the energy crisis and President Jimmy Carter's boozy chain smoking brother marketing his own line of "Billy" beer.

-Click here to read a review of BUFFALO GAL.
-Read more about Laura Pedersen and BUFFALO GAL here.


Click here to read all the details of our Holiday Basket of Cheer feature.'s Special Blog --- Authors on the Holidays

Between now and Christmas Day, more than 50 authors are sharing their favorite memories of giving or receiving a book at the holidays. They include Sandra Brown, Stephen Coonts, Sandra Dallas, Barbara Delinsky, Jamie Ford, Robert Goolrick, Kristin Hannah, Marcia Muller, Lisa Scottoline, Donna VanLiere and more!

Reading these pieces about gift giving and getting, bookish tales of the stories that have enhanced their lives and the traditions that they share will provide an opportunity for you to spend time with some of your favorite authors --- and celebrate the holidays. May we suggest you bookmark this page or set up an RSS feed so you can read these pieces every day?


Click here to read our Authors on the Holidays Blog. Talks to Bill Willingham, Author of PETER & MAX and FABLES: THE DELUXE EDITION, Volume One
For nearly 30 years, Bill Willingham has been a key player in the comics industry, both as an artist and a writer. Today, he concentrates primarily on the writing, working on two of DC Comics/Vertigo’s biggest publications: Fables, the Vertigo series he created in 2001, and the iconic Justice Society of America, the very first --- and possibly greatest --- superhero team of all. Bill was gracious enough to speak at length with’s John Hogan about his work on Fables, which includes the new prose novel PETER & MAX (the first prose novel ever published by Vertigo) and what he has planned for the Justice Society, as well as what he has learned and experienced as a veteran of the industry.

PETER & MAX written by Bill Willingham and illustrated by Steve Leialoha
A prose novel (with a few illustrations throughout), PETER & MAX is based on writer Bill Willingham's epic Fables series. But this clever tale of Peter Piper and his evil brother Max stands completely on its own and is suitable for fans and non-fans alike. Reviewed by John Hogan.

-Click here to read a review of PETER & MAX.

FABLES: THE DELUXE EDITION, Volume One written by Bill Willingham and illustrated by Lan Medina, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha and Craig Hamilton
The first 10 issues of Fables are collected in a new edition. Meet the reinvented cast of folklore, fairy tales and myths as they live their lives in modern-day New York City --- and face the possibility of a killer in their midst. Reviewed by John Hogan.

-Click here to read a review of FABLES: THE DELUXE EDITION, Volume One.

Click here to read’s interview with Bill Willingham.

New Featured Romantic Suspense Author: Mary Burton, Author of DYING SCREAM

Bestselling author Mary Burton is back with another thrilling, chilling novel in DYING SCREAM. Here, she pairs a detective with a wealthy widow to uncover a family's dark, twisted path. DYING SCREAM is now available in stores.

We have 10 copies of DYING SCREAM to give away to readers who would like to read the book and comment about it. If you are interested, please fill out this form by Friday, December 11th.

-Click here to read Mary Burton's bio.
-Visit Mary Burton's official website,
-Click here to read Mary Burton's blog post, "Mary Burton on Rekindling Fond Holiday Memories."

More about

Mary Burton takes readers down the horrific path of an affluent family’s dark past where well-hidden secrets unveil a series of grisly crimes, forcing a widow and a detective to explore a twisted, forbidden love that someone will kill for, again and again.

Click here to read more about Mary Burton and DYING SCREAM.

Featured Suspense/Thriller Author: Jeffery Deaver, Contributor to WATCHLIST

Jeffery Deaver leads a talented team of fellow bestselling authors in WATCHLIST: A Serial Thriller, two novellas penned by 21 of the world's foremost suspense/thriller writers. Now packaged together, THE CHOPIN MANUSCRIPT and THE COPPER BRACELET feature characters and plots created by Deaver with contributions from Lee Child, Joseph Finder, Lisa Scottoline and many more. WATCHLIST will be available in stores on January 5th.

-Click here to read an excerpt from WATCHLIST.
-Click here to read Jeffery Deaver's bio.
-Click here to see Jeffery Deaver’s backlist.
-Click here to read more about the contributing writers to WATCHLIST.
-Click here to visit the official website of the International Thriller Writers Association.
-Click here to see our advance copy winners.

More about WATCHLIST:
From International Thriller Writers comes WATCHLIST: two powerful novellas featuring the same thrilling cast of characters in one major suspenseful package. THE CHOPIN MANUSCRIPT and THE COPPER BRACELET are collaborations of some of the world’s greatest thriller writers, including Lee Child, Joseph Finder, Lisa Scottoline, and Jeffery Deaver, who conceived the characters and set the plots in motion. The other authors each wrote a chapter and Deaver then completed what he started, bringing both novellas to their startling conclusions.


Click here to read more about Jeffery Deaver and WATCHLIST.

Featured Women's Fiction Author: Janice Y. K. Lee, Author of THE PIANO TEACHER

Janice Y. K. Lee's debut novel, THE PIANO TEACHER, was a national bestseller upon its release in January, and is now poised for even bigger things as the paperback edition hit shelves on November 17th.

-Click here to read a review of THE PIANO TEACHER.
-Click here to read a third excerpt from THE PIANO TEACHER.
here to read Janice Y. K. Lee's bio.
-Click here to read critical praise for THE PIANO TEACHER.
-Visit Janice Y. K. Lee's official website,
-Click here to see our finished copy winners.

More about
Set in Hong Kong during the outbreak of World War II, and its aftermath 10 years later, THE PIANO TEACHER alternates between the lives of two vastly different women whose destinies are linked by the events of the war.

Click here to read more about Janice Y. K. Lee and THE PIANO TEACHER.

What to Give/What to Get Gift Guide: Spotlight on Fiction & Nonfiction Highlights

Headed out to do some holiday shopping? Before you go, check out our What to Give/What to Get feature with ideas in 14 categories.

We are spotlighting the various categories in the newsletter this week and in upcoming weeks. This week we're featuring Great Choices for Booklovers and Inspirational Titles. First up --- Great Choices for Booklovers.

Got someone on your list who loves great fiction and nonfiction reads? Our Great Choices for Booklovers category is bound to give you some ideas for what to get the avid reader(s) in your life.

Our featured titles in this category are:

AMISH PEACE: Simple Wisdom for a Complicated World by Suzanne Woods Fisher
BEGINNER'S LUCK: Hallie Palmer Series, Book 1 by Laura Pedersen
HEART’S DESIRE: Hallie Palmer Series, Book 2 by Laura Pedersen
THE BIG SHUFFLE: Hallie Palmer Series, Book 3 by Laura Pedersen
BEST BET: Hallie Palmer Series, Book 4 by Laura Pedersen
HOME by Marilynne Robinson
PRAYERS FOR SALE by Sandra Dallas
SARAH'S KEY by Tatiana de Rosnay
SEA OF POPPIES by Amitav Ghosh
SEASIDE LETTERS: A Nantucket Love Story by Denise Hunter


Click here to see our Great Choices for Booklovers category.

What to Give/What to Get Gift Guide: Spotlight on Christian Fiction & Nonfiction Highlights
Our Inspirational category has a wide selection of Christian fiction and nonfiction titles perfect for the faithful reader in your life.

Our featured titles in this category are:

CLOSER: Devotions to Draw Couples Together by Jim and Cathy Burns
FIELDS OF GRACE by Kim Vogel Sawyer
FINDING CHRISTMAS: Stories of Startling Joy and Perfect Peace by James Calvin Schaap
FORTY LOAVES: Breaking Bread with Our Father Each Day by C. D. Baker
HAVE A LITTLE FAITH: A True Story by Mitch Albom
A HEART EXPOSED: Talking to God with Nothing to Hide by Steven James
HER INHERITANCE FOREVER: Texas: Star of Destiny, Book 2
by Lyn Cote
JUST BETWEEN YOU AND ME: A Novel of Losing Fear and Finding God by Jenny B. Jones
LEAH’S CHOICE: Pleasant Valley, Book One by Marta Perry
A LINEAGE OF GRACE by Francine Rivers
The Redemption Series by Karen Kingsbury and Gary Smalley
STRAY AFFECTIONS by Charlene Ann Baumbich
TREASURED: Knowing God by the Things He Keeps by Leigh McLeroy
WHO DO I TALK TO?: A Yada Yada House of Hope Novel by Neta Jackson
Click here to see our Inspirational category.

New in Paperback for December
December’s roundup of New in Paperback titles includes Janet Evanovich’s PLUM SPOOKY, a Stephanie Plum Between-the-Numbers novel in which a mysterious man named Diesel is the instigator for the bounty hunter’s latest adventure; ON THE GRIND, a Shane Scully thriller from Stephen J. Cannell that finds the LAPD detective charged with felony misconduct in a high-profile solicitation of murder case; PATHS OF GLORY by Jeffrey Archer, a fictional account of one man’s extraordinary quest to climb Mt. Everest; the 2009 National Book Award winner LET THE GREAT WORLD SPIN, Colum McCann’s vision of the pain, loveliness, mystery and promise of New York City in the 1970s; THE WOMEN by T.C. Boyle, a novel of Frank Lloyd Wright and the women in his life; and THE BLACK GIRL NEXT DOOR, Jennifer Baszile’s memoir about coming of age as a black girl in an exclusive white suburb in "integrated," post-Civil Rights California in the 1970s and 1980s.
Click here to see our New in Paperback feature for December.

Books into Movies/Books into Movies on DVD for December

December’s Books into Movies feature may be bereft of the feel-good, family-friendly holiday films so common this season, but we’re spotlighting some highly anticipated and critically acclaimed adaptations that offer the perfect excuse to leave the kids at home and lose yourself in a good story or two. From the heartwrenching The Lovely Bones to the awe-inspiring Invictus and the uplifting Up in the Air, these three films are sure to stay with you well into the new year.

In case you’re looking for something a bit more festive this holiday season, grab a cup of hot cocoa, find a comfy spot on the sofa, and tune in to Hallmark Channel on December 5th, where Mrs. Miracle --- based on Debbie Macomber's heartwarming novel about a widower and father of two who rebuilds his life with the help of one particularly extraordinary housekeeper --- will premiere at 8PM ET. If you just can't get enough holiday cheer, don't miss Donna VanLiere's Christmas series --- featuring The Christmas Shoes, The Christmas Blessing and the brand-new The Christmas Hope --- which will air on December 13th on Lifetime Movie Network, starting at 4PM ET.

And don’t forget that movies make the perfect stocking stuffers, as some of last summer’s biggest hits --- like Julie & Julia, Public Enemies and Taking Woodstock --- are new on DVD this month.


Click here to read more details about December's films.

This Week's Reviews
OPEN: An Autobiography by Andre Agassi (Memoir)
Coaxed to swing a racket while still in the crib, forced to hit hundreds of balls a day while still in grade school, tennis superstar Andre Agassi resented the constant pressure even as he drove himself to become a prodigy, an inner conflict that would define him. Now, in this long-awaited autobiography, Agassi tells the story of a life framed by such conflicts, a life balanced precariously between self-destruction and perfectionism. Reviewed by Ron Kaplan.

WHY MY THIRD HUSBAND WILL BE A DOG: The Amazing Adventures of an Ordinary Woman by Lisa Scottoline (Essays)
At last, together in one collection, are Lisa Scottoline’s wildly popular Philadelphia Inquirer columns. In
“Chick Wit,” Lisa lets her hair down, roots and all, to show the humorous side of life from a woman’s perspective. The Sunday column, which debuted in 2007, gained momentum and popularity. Word of mouth spread, and readers demanded a collection. WHY MY THIRD HUSBAND WILL BE A DOG is that collection. Reviewed by Roberta O’Hara.

-Click here to read Lisa Scottoline’s blog post, “Mother Mary and the Christmas Sinatra.”

A CHRISTMAS BLIZZARD by Garrison Keillor (Fiction)
A very wealthy man who dreads winter and hates everything about Christmas desperately wants to escape to his vacation estate in Hawaii. His wife, who has no knowledge of his neurotic fear of winter and who loves everything about Christmas, prefers to remain at home in their 55th floor Chicago penthouse for the holidays. Leave it to Garrison Keillor to create a rather bizarre Christmas fable somewhat reminiscent of A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Reviewed by Carole Turner.

A RUMPOLE CHRISTMAS: Stories by John Mortimer (Fiction/Short Stories)
Legendary barrister Horace Rumpole was the creation of English author John Mortimer, who sadly passed away in 2009. Rumpole, a wry observer of life and law, returns in this collection of short stories for what may well be his final appearance in the courtrooms of the Old Bailey. Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman.

EATING THE DINOSAUR by Chuck Klosterman (Essays)
Whether he's dissecting the boredom of voyeurism, the reason why music fans inevitably hate their favorite band's latest album, or why we love watching can't-miss superstars fail spectacularly, Chuck Klosterman remains obsessed with the relationship between expectation, reality and living history. Reviewed by Jana Siciliano.

THE GIFT OF AN ORDINARY DAY: A Mother’s Memoir by Katrina Kenison (Memoir)
THE GIFT OF AN ORDINARY DAY is an intimate memoir of a family in transition --- boys becoming teenagers, careers ending and new ones opening up, an attempt to find a deeper sense of place, and a slower pace, in a small New England town. It is a story of mid-life longings and discoveries, of lessons learned in the search for home and a new sense of purpose, and the bittersweet intensity of life with teenagers. Reviewed by Jana Siciliano.

-Click here to see the reading group guide for THE GIFT OF AN ORDINARY DAY.

HOME IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS by Heather Graham (Romance)
Melody Tarleton is on her way to a family Christmas in Massachusetts when icy conditions cause her to hit a man who appears in the middle of the road. But this isn't just any man. Jake Mallory claims to be a Patriot soldier from 1776, and a typical family Christmas takes a new turn when Melody does her best to help Jake return to his world without letting him take her heart with him. Reviewed by Amie Taylor.

THE VIOLET HOUR by Daniel Judson (Thriller)
Bridgehampton auto mechanic Caleb Rakowski is sheltering a pregnant friend who will do anything to keep her abusive husband away from herself and her baby. Little does he know, though, the trouble destined to come down on them over the course of three days when he learns the truth about his friend, Eric Carver, and what he's been hiding all these years. And little does Cal know how those lies will force him to risk everything to save the people closest to him.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

CHURCHILL by Paul Johnson (Biography)
The literature on Winston Churchill is enormous, but the great British wartime leader has been dead for 44 years now, and there are lots of readers out there to whom he may be just a name in the history books. British historian Paul Johnson has produced a short and readable biography of this many-sided political, literary and oratorical giant. Reviewed by Robert Finn.

TINSEL: A Search for America's Christmas Present by Hank Stuever (Cultural Studies)
In this compelling book, Hank Stuever turns his unerring eye for the idiosyncrasies of modern life to Frisco, Texas, a suburb at once all-American and completely itself, to tell the story of the nation's most over-the-top celebration: Christmas. Reviewed by Curtis Edmonds.span>

DOGTOWN: Death and Enchantment in a New England Ghost Town by Elyssa East (True Crime)
The area known as Dogtown has long exerted a powerful influence over artists, writers, eccentrics and nature lovers. But in 1984, a brutal killing took place there, and its peculiar atmosphere and eerie past deepened the pall of this horrific event. In alternating chapters, Elyssa East interlaces the story of this grisly murder with the strange, dark history of this wilderness ghost town and explores the possibility that certain landscapes wield their own unique power. Reviewed by Kate Ayers.


Read this week's reviews here.

Poll, Question and Word of Mouth

Are you giving books as gifts this holiday season?

Not sure

Are you hoping to receive books as gifts this holiday season?

Not sure

-Click here to answer our poll.


What book did you love so much that you would want to give multiple copies of it this holiday season?

-Click here to answer our question.

Word of Mouth:

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 NANNY RETURNS by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, THE PARIS VENDETTA by Steve Berry and U IS FOR UNDERTOW by Sue Grafton. Tell us what you are reading and rate the titles 1-5 by noon on December 18th 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 December 31, 2009 automatically are entered in our Monthly Newsletter Contest. This month, one winner will be selected to win the following five books: THE DISCIPLE by Stephen Coonts, LA'S ORCHESTRA SAVES THE WORLD by Alexander McCall Smith, NANNY RETURNS by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, THE PARIS VENDETTA by Steve Berry and U IS FOR UNDERTOW by Sue Grafton. Susan from New Hope, PA was last month's newsletter winner. She won BREATHLESS by Dean Koontz, THE HUMBLING by Philip Roth, THE LACUNA by Barbara Kingsolver, PIRATE LATITUDES by Michael Crichton and UNDER THE DOME by Stephen King.

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

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