Skip to main content

February 6, 2015 Newsletter February 6, 2015
Authors, Authors, Authors: Let the Book Conversation Begin!

I am not going to talk about the weather in this newsletter, except to say that I am happy that I THINK the skies will be clear for my early morning Sunday flight to Asheville for the 10th Annual American Booksellers Association’s Winter Institute. This annual gathering of 500 indie booksellers is one of my favorite events of the year, as these are uber readers as well as booksellers. The conversation about what we like --- and what we felt did not quite hit the mark --- is always invigorating.

There will be more than 100 authors in attendance, and I am making fast and furious notes on who I especially would like to meet! One program that I am excited about is “A Conversation about F. Scott Fitzgerald.” As the program notes, “Asheville has a rich literary history. Included among the authors with ties to the city is one of the 20th century’s greatest novelists, F. Scott Fitzgerald. (His wife, Zelda, was treated at Asheville's Highland Hospital, a psychiatric facility.) Maureen Corrigan, author of SO WE READ ON: How the Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures, and Stewart O’Nan, author of WEST OF SUNSET, a novel of Fitzgerald’s last years in Hollywood, will share their insights and observations about the writer, his works, and his times. The conversation will be moderated by Erik Larson, author of DEAD WAKE: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania (coming in March)." My husband just read an advance copy of DEAD WAKE and enjoyed it. Larson, as you may recall, also is the author of THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY and IN THE GARDEN OF BEASTS.

Speaking of authors, Kristin Hannah was in town this week to kick off her tour for THE NIGHTINGALE, which is a #1 Indie Pick for February! We got to catch up over a cup of tea on Tuesday morning before she was off to do a radio interview. Reader comments about this book have been coming in steadily, all of which are raves. At the launch event on Tuesday night, there was a large crowd of loyal readers who braved the cold, snow and subway delays to be there. Kristin’s passion infused this story about what women went through in World War II; she feels that much focus has been on men's stories, and she wanted to tell another side. She draws a vivid picture of life for women in France in this novel, which is full of rich historical detail. Melanie, who edits our Word of Mouth feature and who also loved the book, caught up with Kristin at Book Revue in Huntington on Wednesday night and reported that the crowd there was equally enthusiastic.

We are featuring THE NIGHTINGALE on, as it is perfect for book groups. One fan talked about how she enjoys the audios of the books. On the audiobook for THE NIGHTINGALE, Kristin narrates the discussion questions for book clubs. One note: Hold off on reading the discussion questions until you finish the book as there are spoilers in them!

We’ve been featuring THE NIGHTINGALE in our Women’s Fiction Author Spotlight. Norah Piehl has our review this week and says, "The novel is suspenseful and romantic at the same time, and offers readers a very personal portrait of life in wartime and of the kind of bravery harbored by even seemingly ordinary people." We’re also pleased to share a Q&A in which Kristin talks about her inspiration for the book, how she approached the research into this particular setting and era, and what she hopes readers will take away from the novel. If you can catch her on tour, you are in for a treat; you can check out her schedule here. My sister is going to try to catch up with her at her Costco signing in Georgia on Sunday.

An aside here: As often as I go to Costco (we joke that my husband has a Costco addiction), I have never gone to an author signing there. I would love to do that…the ultimate multitasking!

Bestselling thriller author Lisa Gardner has released CRASH & BURN, a stand-alone novel with a cameo by fan-favorite Detective D.D. Warren. We are introduced here to Nicole Frank, who has just survived a nearly fatal car accident and rescue. Throughout it all, one thought propels Nicky to safety: a little girl in danger. Sergeant Wyatt Foster is frustrated when he can’t find any signs of the missing child, until Nicky’s husband shows up with a shocking revelation: Nicky suffers from a rare brain injury that makes her untrustworthy. But as Wyatt investigates further, it seems that this is not Nicky’s first accident --- and now it's up to him to ensure that it's her last.

According to reviewer Joe Hartlaub, “CRASH & BURN is not so much a departure from Lisa Gardner’s immensely popular D.D. Warren series as it is an interlude.... [H]er stalwart long-time audience will find it a very satisfying read for its long look at Wyatt Foster and the hint of what is to come.”

Also available now is FUNNY GIRL, Nick Hornby’s highly anticipated new novel. Set in 1960s London, the book follows the adventures of Sophie Straw. A working class English girl, Sophie is just beginning to come of age as a television starlet surrounded by a bevy of eccentric characters. Funny, flawed and devilishly enchanting, the characters of FUNNY GIRL will encourage readers to examine both their cultures and themselves. By the way, I still cannot believe that the '60s were half a century ago!

Eileen Zimmerman Nicol has this to say in her review: “As he did with ABOUT A BOY and HIGH FIDELITY, Nick Hornby once again has created a funny and lovable cast of characters inhabiting a complex, fully fleshed-out world. I enjoyed it, although at times it began to seem like a clever sitcom that had gone on a bit too long. But it made me laugh, and it made me feel good.”

From prolific fantasy author Neil Gaiman comes TRIGGER WARNING: Short Fictions and Disturbances, his third collection of short fiction. Full of horror, science fiction and fairy tales, this anthology explores both the masks we wear and the vulnerabilities we hide behind them. From a special “Doctor Who” story to pirates, igloos made of books, and even a spin on Sherlock Holmes, Gaiman offers numerous surprises in this imaginative collection.

Sarah Rachel Egelman has much praise for TRIGGER WARNING in her review: “Gaiman's skill is always apparent, and his creativity never fails to yield entertaining and thoughtful results. The introduction, where we learn his own thoughts on the stories and some of his ideas about writing in general, is just as fun to read as the rest of TRIGGER WARNING. This is a book to savor and enjoy, and it's perfect reading for the long cold days and nights of late winter.” We also have a guide for the book on (the questions were written by Sarah herself), which you can see here.

Another short story collection out this week is GET IN TROUBLE, which fans of darkly playful Kelly Link will be excited to learn is now available. In her first collection of adult stories in a decade, she weaves imagination with sly humor to expose the hidden strengths of human beings. From “The Summer People,” the story of a young girl playing caretaker to mysterious visitors to the cottage behind her home, to “I Can See Right Through You,” the tale of a movie star who visits the set of a ghost-hunting reality show, Link will terrify and amuse you.

Michael Magras has our review and says, “GET IN TROUBLE...demonstrates [Link's] ability to spin gripping yarns about haunted houses, vampires, wolfmen, spaceships and Egyptian cartouches, and infuse her tales with a vitality rarely seen in this type of fiction…. For the most part, these are beautifully written stories by one of today’s most inventive writers.”

As we feature more than one short story collection this week, I wanted to share something that Kelly noted to me when we had lunch a few months ago. It is not necessary for readers to love every story in a short story collection. As you read, see which stories resonate more than others and think about why. I feel the same way about collections of essays and gave it a lot of thought when I was listening to David Sedaris on audio.

To celebrate the March 17th release of THE POCKET WIFE by Susan Crawford, which is being compared to THE SILENT WIFE and TURN OF MIND (as they were both Bets On titles, that was enough of a comparison to get ME reading), we’re giving 25 readers the opportunity to win an advance copy of the book and submit their comments on it. Dana Catrell is shocked when her neighbor, Celia, is brutally murdered on their quiet street. Although Dana was the last person to see Celia alive, her bipolar disorder’s mania has poked holes in her memory of the day. Meanwhile, her husband is acting strangely, and Detective Jack Moss won’t stop probing her for details. As Dana comes closer to finding the truth, she must wonder if there is a murderer hiding too close to home. The deadline for your giveaway entries is Thursday, February 19th at noon ET. Click here to enter.

I am about halfway through THE POCKET WIFE, finding pockets of time in this very crazy week to read it. Dana is one very unreliable character, and I am loving following her head around. Looking forward to finishing it!

Continuing from last week is our Sneak Peek feature for WHISKEY AND CHARLIE by Annabel Smith, which releases on April 7th. Whiskey and Charlie were once so close that they spoke in a coded language, but now, as adults, they do not even speak --- until Whiskey is in a terrible accident. Now Charlie must face their issues alone to find the closure he needs. There is still time to enter our contest to win one of 100 advance copies of the book, but please remember that participation is critical, so we must ask that only readers who can commit to reading the book and sharing their comments by Tuesday, March 24th apply. The deadline for your contest entries is Thursday, February 12th at noon ET.

I am just about finished with WHISKEY AND CHARLIE and just love it. It will be a Bets On selection. Oh, and for those who read the newsletter last week and wondered what W stands for in our house, it’s William. Both Tom and Greg’s real names are William; we call them by their middle names. Tom’s dad was William Thomas, thus he is Jr., and Greg is just named that to honor Tom's dad. Now, this was not an issue before 9/11, but since then, remembering to buy plane tickets and handle medical tasks in their “William” name has been an issue. When Greg was born, the nurse brought him to me the following morning and told me that “William had a great night.” I asked who William was. She immediately checked my wrist bracelet, identifying me as the mother. Birth announcements read "W. Gregory Fitzgerald," making him sound like a little prince!

Also continuing this week is our Women's Fiction Author Spotlight of Emily Gray Tedrowe, whose haunting novel BLUE STARS releases on February 17th. Ellen, a Midwestern professor, is drawn into the Iraq War when her legal ward, Michael, enlists. Lacey, a proud army wife, is struggling to maintain her home while her husband, Eddie, is at war. When Michael and Eddie are injured, Ellen and Lacey meet at the Walter Reed Army Hospital, where they form an unlikely friendship while helping each other survive the dislocated world of the army hospital. There is still a week left to enter to win one of 25 copies of BLUE STARS and comment on it. Thursday, February 12th at noon ET will be your deadline for entries.

And don’t forget to enter our Valentine’s Day contest, which we’ve brought back for a 10th consecutive year. Five readers will win six love-themed books and Ghirardelli chocolates. Enter here by Monday, February 16th at noon ET for your chance to win this delicious prize package. We’re also spreading the love on and with Valentine’s Day contests of their own that you should consider entering as well!

We’ve wrapped up our third week of Winter Reading contests, where we gave away the aforementioned THE NIGHTINGALE by Kristin Hannah, along with BETTYVILLE: A Memoir by George Hodgman; A MEMORY OF VIOLETS: A Novel of London's Flower Sellers, by Hazel Gaynor; and THE KIND WORTH KILLING by Peter Swanson, which we’re reviewing this week. Next week’s prize books will be CRAZY LOVE YOU by Lisa Unger, THE LAST GOOD PARADISE by Tatjana Soli, THE SECRETS OF MIDWIVES by Sally Hepworth, and THE WHITES by Richard Price, writing as Harry Brandt (I will have the answer on why that is worded like that next week!). The first 24-hour contest of the week will appear on the homepage on Monday, February 9th at noon ET.

Our New in Paperback feature has been updated for February. Releases include REDEPLOYMENT by Phil Klay, which won the 2014 National Book Award and is the latest book we’re giving away in our “What’s Your Book Group Reading This Month?” contest on; SHOTGUN LOVESONGS by Nickolas Butler, the guide for which we’re also featuring now on; and titles from such bestselling authors as Dean Koontz (THE CITY), Kathy Reichs (BONES NEVER LIE) and Daniel Silva (THE HEIST).

This week’s “Sounding Off on Audio” interviews are with Bernadette Taylor, the director of Human Resources for a mid-size company, and Mary Ann Blanton, a former Health Environmentalist for a Public Health Department who is now retired. If you are interested in being interviewed for this feature, please email me at [email protected] with the subject line "Audiobook Lover."

How many of your friends enjoy reading books? Do you talk about books with your book-loving friends? Let us know the answers to these questions in our latest poll. In our previous poll, we wanted to know how many reviews you typically look at before reading a book. 65% of you read 1-3 reviews, while 9% read more than 5 and 17% don’t read any. Click here for a more detailed breakdown of the results.

Our new Word of Mouth contest kicks off today. Let us know by Friday, February 20th at noon ET what books you’ve finished reading, and you’ll have a chance to win the aforementioned CRAZY LOVE YOU by Lisa Unger, in addition to MY SUNSHINE AWAY by M.O. Walsh and A SPOOL OF BLUE THREAD by Anne Tyler.

Also, last month was so hectic that we didn't have a chance to share the list of winners for our 2014 End-of-the-Year Contest. Click here to see that list, and congratulations to all our lucky winners! Hope you enjoy the books.

Pop culture and news of note:

Harper Lee’s New Book: The BIGGEST book story of the week! Very excited to see GO SET A WATCHMAN coming in July. I am most interested as it was written in the '50s through a lens that was not yet jaded by the events of the '60s. It will share that unique perspective of time and place. Eager anticipation of this as a book event! USA Today called me for my thoughts when it was announced, which you can read here. Interested to hear what the indie booksellers will say about it next week.

Water for Elephants: The Musical?: Peter Schneider and Elisabetta di Mambro, two producers, are adapting Sara Gruen's WATER FOR ELEPHANTS into a musical. Gruen will be involved with this theatrical project, which they hope to bring to the Great White Way of Broadway. I had forgotten that she originally wrote the book for National Novel Writing Month until I read it in GalleyCat.

Super Bowl: I liked only three of the ads: the Budweiser dog/horses, the ones with Liam Neeson (I think for a video game?) and Pierce Brosnan's (again I cannot remember what it was for, but it was clever). I felt that the brawl at the end kind of contradicted the anti-violence and “super dad” ads. Oh, and about that call at the end that probably cost Seattle the game: All I can say is that we all have made bad calls in business and life, but few are watched by millions and not all are worth $50,000 per person (the difference between what the winners and losers get).

"The Americans" on FX: This show is back for a third season. I love the disguises and the intrigue, but the violence is tough viewing. Ahhhh, the Cold War. It lives on. Does "Allegiance" have a similar plot?

Stuck in Love on Netflix: Once the newsletter mails on a Friday night, we always watch a movie. I cannot say that Stuck in Love was brilliant, but the references to publishing were fun, and so was the cameo by Stephen King. Though, if your dad was a bestselling author, I am not sure that there would ever be a finished book ready before he heard anything about it, like what happened to the young girl in the story.

Paula Hawkins: Know her name? Maybe not. But I bet you have heard of her book, THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN. Check out the New York Times interview with her here.

Walking on the treadmill with a book propped up on my new reading stand was wonderful last weekend! I definitely logged a lot more steps than I would have without it. And very humorous to see how many of you wrote asking if my husband could build one for you. I will let you know if he goes into mass production, but the look he gave me when I asked does not imply this will be happening soon!

The flower above grew from a giant Amaryllis bulb that I planted in late November. All three stalks and all four flowers have bloomed at once. During the dreary month of January, this is wonderful. And there is a pink one ready to sprout at any moment!

Packing is on the agenda for the weekend, as well as cramming on all the authors who will be at Winter Institute. I have some reading ahead of me! Read on, and here’s to a great week ahead.

Carol Fitzgerald ([email protected])

P.S. For those of you who shop online, if you use the store links below, gets a small affiliate fee on your purchases. We would appreciate your considering this!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

An Interview with Kristin Hannah, Author of THE NIGHTINGALE --- a Women’s Fiction Author Spotlight Title

Kristin Hannah is the bestselling author of more than 20 novels. Her latest is a bit of a departure for her: THE NIGHTINGALE is a sweeping work of historical fiction that tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, as each embarks on her own dangerous path toward survival, love and freedom in German-occupied France. In this interview, Hannah discusses the brave Belgian who inspired her to tell the story of the women’s war, as well as the pros and cons of writing fiction that adheres so resolutely to history. She also shares her favorite scene in the novel, how she overcame her nerves in order to actually write it, and what she hopes readers will take away from the story.

THE NIGHTINGALE by Kristin Hannah (Historical Fiction)
With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of World War II and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. THE NIGHTINGALE tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read a review.
-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here for the reading group guide.
-Click here to read Kristin Hannah’s bio.
-Click here to visit Kristin Hannah’s official website.
-Click here to connect with Kristin Hannah on Facebook.
-Click here to see the 25 winners selected to read and comment on the book.
-Click here to read more in our Women's Fiction Author Spotlight.

Click here to read the interview.
Now in Stores: CRASH & BURN by Lisa Gardner
CRASH & BURN by Lisa Gardner (Thriller)
Nicole Frank shouldn’t have been able to survive the car accident, much less crawl up the steep ravine. But one thought allows her to defy the odds and flag down help: Vero. Sergeant Wyatt Foster is frustrated when even the search dogs can’t find any trace of the mysterious missing child. Until Nicky’s husband, Thomas, arrives with a host of shattering revelations: Nicole Frank suffers from a rare brain injury, and the police shouldn’t trust anything she says. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read more about the book.
Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: FUNNY GIRL by Nick Hornby
FUNNY GIRL by Nick Hornby (Historical Fiction)
Set in 1960s London, FUNNY GIRL is a lively account of the adventures of the intrepid young Sophie Straw as she navigates her transformation from provincial ingénue to television starlet amid a constellation of delightful characters. Insightful and humorous, Nick Hornby's latest does what he does best: endears us to a cast of characters who are funny, if flawed, and forces us to examine ourselves in the process. Reviewed by Eileen Zimmerman Nicol.

-Click here to read more about the book.
Click here to read a review.
Now in Stores: TRIGGER WARNING by Neil Gaiman
TRIGGER WARNING: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman (Fiction/Short Stories)
In this new anthology, Neil Gaiman pierces the veil of reality to reveal the enigmatic, shadowy world that lies beneath. TRIGGER WARNING includes previously published pieces of short fiction --- stories, verse, and a very special "Doctor Who" story that was written for the 50th anniversary of the beloved series in 2013 --- as well as “Black Dog,” a new tale that revisits the world of AMERICAN GODS, exclusive to this collection. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here for the reading group guide.
Click here to read a review.
New Special Contest: THE POCKET WIFE by Susan Crawford
We are celebrating the March 17th release of THE POCKET WIFE by Susan Crawford with a special contest that will give 25 readers the opportunity to win an advance copy of the book and submit their comments on it. To enter, please fill out this form by Thursday, February 19th at noon ET.

THE POCKET WIFE by Susan Crawford (Psychological Thriller)
Dana Catrell is shocked when her neighbor Celia is brutally murdered. To Dana’s horror, she was the last person to see Celia alive. Suffering from mania, the result of her bipolar disorder, she has troubling holes in her memory, including what happened on the afternoon of Celia’s death.

Her husband’s odd behavior and the probing of Detective Jack Moss create further complications as she searches for answers. The closer she comes to piecing together the shards of her broken memory, the more Dana falls apart. Is there a murderer lurking inside her...or is there one out there in the shadows of reality, waiting to strike again?

-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here to read more on the publisher’s website.

-Click here to read Susan Crawford’s bio.
-Click here to visit Susan Crawford’s official website.
-Connect with Susan Crawford on Facebook and Twitter.
Click here to enter the contest.
Sneak Peek Contest: WHISKEY AND CHARLIE by Annabel Smith
Our latest Sneak Peek Feature spotlights WHISKEY AND CHARLIE by Annabel Smith, a compelling and unforgettable novel about rivalry and redemption that is perfect for anyone whose family has ever been less than picture-perfect. The book doesn’t release until April 7th, but we have 100 advance copies to give away to readers who can commit to previewing it and sharing their comments on it by Tuesday, March 24th. To enter, please fill out this form by Thursday, February 12th at noon ET.

For our Sneak Peek program, your commitment to participate is critical, so please only enter this contest if you truly will have time to read WHISKEY AND CHARLIE and give us your feedback before our March 24th deadline. We take these project deadlines seriously. If not, don’t worry…we will have more opportunities like this in the future.

WHISKEY AND CHARLIE by Annabel Smith (Fiction)
Whiskey and Charlie might have come from the same family, but they’d tell you two completely different stories about growing up. Whiskey is everything Charlie is not --- bold, daring, carefree --- and Charlie blames his twin brother for always stealing the limelight, always getting everything, always pushing Charlie back.

When they were just boys, the secret language they whispered back and forth over their crackly walkie-talkies connected them, in a way. The two-way alphabet (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta) became their code, their lifeline. But as the brothers grew up, they grew apart. By the time the twins reach adulthood, they are barely even speaking to each other.

When Charlie hears that Whiskey has been in a terrible accident and has slipped into a coma, Charlie can’t make sense of it. Who is he without Whiskey? As days and weeks slip by and the chances of Whiskey recovering grow ever more slim, Charlie is forced to consider that he may never get to say all the things he wants to say.

-Click here to read Annabel Smith’s bio.
-Connect with Annabel Smith on Facebook and Twitter.
Click here to read more in our Sneak Peek feature and enter the contest.
Women’s Fiction Author Spotlight & Contest: BLUE STARS by Emily Gray Tedrowe
We have 25 copies of BLUE STARS by Emily Gray Tedrowe to give away to readers who would like to read the book, which releases on February 17th, and share their comments on it. To enter, please fill out this form by Thursday, February 12th at noon ET.

BLUE STARS by Emily Gray Tedrowe (Fiction)
BLUE STARS brings to life the realities of the modern day home front: how to get through the daily challenges of motherhood and holding down a job while bearing the stress and uncertainty of war, when everything can change in an instant. It tells the story of Ellen, a Midwestern literature professor, who is drawn into the war when her legal ward Michael enlists as a Marine; and of Lacey, a proud Army wife who struggles to pay the bills and keep things going for her son while her husband is deployed. Ellen and Lacey cope with the fear and stress of a loved one at war while trying to get by in a society that often ignores or misunderstands what war means to women today.

When Michael and Eddie are injured in Iraq, Ellen and Lacey’s lives become intertwined in Walter Reed Army Hospital, where each woman must live while caring for her wounded soldier. They form an alliance, and an unlikely friendship, while helping each other survive the dislocated world of the army hospital. Whether that means fighting for proper care for their men, sharing a six-pack, or coping with irrevocable loss, Ellen and Lacey pool their strengths to make it through. In the end, both women are changed, not only by the war and its fallout, but by each other.

-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here to read critical praise.
-Click here to read Emily Gray Tedrowe’s bio.
-Click here to visit Emily Gray Tedrowe’s official website.
-Click here to connect with Emily Gray Tedrowe on Twitter.
Click here to read more in our Women’s Fiction Author Spotlight and enter the contest.
February’s New in Paperback Roundups

February’s roundups of New in Paperback fiction titles include the 2014 National Book Award winner REDEPLOYMENT, Phil Klay’s debut short story collection that takes readers to the frontlines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, asking us to understand what happened there, and what happened to the soldiers who returned; SHOTGUN LOVESONGS, Nickolas Butler's debut novel in which four boyhood friends --- and a woman who has meant something special in each of their lives --- are all brought together for a wedding in the small Wisconsin town of Little Wing; and the latest paperbacks from such bestselling authors as Dean Koontz (THE CITY), Kathy Reichs (BONES NEVER LIE) and Daniel Silva (THE HEIST).

Among this month’s nonfiction offerings are NEW LIFE, NO INSTRUCTIONS, Gail Caldwell's memoir about a dramatic turning point in her life that unexpectedly opened up a world of understanding, possibility and connection; GLITTER AND GLUE by Kelly Corrigan, a memoir that examines the bond --- sometimes nourishing, sometimes exasperating, occasionally divine --- between mothers and daughters; and DARK INVASION, Howard Blum’s gritty, true-life tale of German espionage and terror on American soil during World War I, and the NYPD Inspector who helped uncover the plot --- the basis for the film to be produced by and starring Bradley Cooper.

-Find out what's New in Paperback for the weeks of February 2nd, February 9th, February 16th and February 23rd.'s 10th Annual Valentine's Day Contest: Enter to Win Books and Sweet Treats for Yourself or Your Valentine!
Valentine's Day is only a few heartbeats away. We can't think of a better way to celebrate this special day than to cuddle up with your loved one...and a good book, of course! We're giving readers the chance to win one of our five Valentine's Day prize packages, which includes one copy of each of our featured books and some delicious Ghirardelli chocolate. Enter here between now and Monday, February 16th at noon ET for your opportunity to be a lucky (and beloved!) winner. If you're feeling frisky, share with us your all-time book character crush. Don't be shy, we all got 'em! We'll post your literary loves and lusts --- along with the five winners --- right after Valentine's Day, so please be on the lookout!

Our featured Valentine’s Day titles are:

Click here to enter the contest.’s Winter Reading Contests and Feature
At, we are kicking off 2015 with our first-ever Winter Reading Contests and Feature. On select days between now and mid-February, we will be hosting a series of 24-hour contests spotlighting a book releasing this winter and giving five lucky readers a chance to win it. We also will be sending a special newsletter to announce the day's title, which you can sign up for here.

We encourage you to take a look at this year's featured titles, as these are the books you will want to read during the winter months --- and into the warmer ones!

Our next prize book will be announced on Monday, February 9th at noon ET.

This year's featured titles are:

Click here to read all the contest details and see our featured titles.
Mystery Mayhem Author Spotlight: FEBRUARY FEVER by Jess Lourey
FEBRUARY FEVER: A Murder-By-Month Mystery by Jess Lourey (Mystery)
Check out FEBRUARY FEVER, the 10th book in Jess Lourey’s critically acclaimed Murder-by-Month mysteries. In this installment, Mira James' budding relationship with boyfriend Johnny is definitely warming up her winter. But when Johnny is offered an internship he can't pass up in Portland, Oregon, Mira lets Mrs. Berns talk her into a visit. On the plus side, Mira will be able to take the trip as a tax write-off by attending the International Private Investigator Conference that happens to be going on at the same time. The only drawback for airplane-averse Mira is that Mrs. Berns has booked them on the Valentine Train --- a route designed to help singles meet and mingle.

Relaxing into the experience with a few glasses of champagne and Mrs. Berns' encouragement, Mira begins to enjoy herself...until a fellow passenger is murdered.

FEBRUARY FEVER releases on February 8th.

-Click here to read an excerpt.
-Click here to read Jess Lourey’s bio.
-Click here to visit Jess Lourey’s official website.
-Connect with Jess Lourey on Facebook and Twitter.
Click here to read more in our Mystery Mayhem Author Spotlight.
Sounding Off on Audio: Interviews with Listeners About Their Love of Audiobooks
In this week's "Sounding Off on Audio" feature, we interview Bernadette Taylor, a reader who leads a very busy life in Lancaster, PA. Between her job and raising a teenager and preteen, she doesn’t have much time to sit down and read. Luckily, she can listen to audiobooks on the go, and has been doing so for the past 10 years. Here, she shares some of her favorite narrators and titles she has enjoyed listening to.

-Click here to read our interview with Bernadette Taylor.

We also chat with Mary Ann Blanton, a lifelong reader and longtime listener. She also loves traveling, crafting and other lazy pursuits, so being able to multitask with an audiobook is always an added bonus. In her interview, Mary Ann talks about how audio has helped her maximize her book intake, especially because there is no escape if you’re listening in the car. She also shares how audiobooks have come a long way since she started listening, and the one genre she prefers to read.

-Click here to read our interview with Mary Ann Blanton.
Click here for more "Sounding Off on Audio" interviews.
More Reviews This Week
GET IN TROUBLE: Stories by Kelly Link (Fiction/Short Stories)
Kelly Link’s new story collection presents nine tales of the fantastic and the bizarre. The protagonists, most of them young women, include a teenager who hears voices in her head, an actress from a ghost-hunting reality show, a 15-year-old gamer who travels from Iowa to New York to meet an older man she met online, and a woman who departs from a bar in the company of a man who claims to be a wolfman. Reviewed by Michael Magras.

THE KIND WORTH KILLING by Peter Swanson (Psychological Thriller)
On a night flight from London to Boston, Ted Severson meets the stunning and mysterious Lily Kintner. He talks about his marriage that’s going stale and his wife Miranda, who he’s sure is cheating on him. When Ted jokes that he could kill Miranda for what she’s done, Lily calmly states that she would like to help --- and they begin to plot Miranda's demise. Suddenly these co-conspirators are embroiled in a chilling game of cat-and-mouse, one they both cannot survive…with a shrewd and very determined detective on their tail. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

-Click here to read an excerpt.

SEE HOW SMALL by Scott Blackwood (Fiction)
Two strangers walk into an ice cream shop shortly before closing time. They bind up the three teenage girls who are working the counter, set fire to the shop and disappear. SEE HOW SMALL tells the stories of the survivors who must endure in the wake of atrocity. Justice remains elusive in their world, human connection tenuous. Hovering above the aftermath of their deaths are the three girls, who try to connect with and prod to life those they left behind. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE BEIGE MAN: An Inspector Irene Huss Investigation Set in Sweden by Helene Tursten (Mystery)
The high-speed chase of a stolen BMW takes a chilling turn when the two police officers involved witness a gruesome hit-and-run. But what they uncover is an entirely different horror: the half-naked corpse of a young girl in a nearby root cellar. As Detective Inspector Irene Huss and her colleagues struggle to put the pieces together, they discover that the man whose car was stolen --- a retired police officer --- is none other than the victim in the hit-and-run. Could it be a strange coincidence? Or is something larger at play? Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE FORGOTTEN GIRLS by Sara Blaedel (Thriller)
An older woman recognizes the body of an unidentified woman as Lisemette, a child she once cared for in the state mental institution many years ago. Lisemette, like the other children in the institution, was abandoned by her family and branded a "forgotten girl." But Louise Rick, the new commander of the Missing Persons Department, soon discovers something more disturbing: Lisemette had a twin, and both girls were issued death certificates more than 30 years ago. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

MISS HAZEL AND THE ROSA PARKS LEAGUE by Jonathan Odell (Historical Fiction)
Embittered and distrusting, Vida is harassed by Delphi’s racist sheriff and haunted by the son she lost to the world. Hazel, too, has lost a son and can’t keep a grip on her fractured life. After drunkenly crashing her car into a manger scene while gunning for the baby Jesus, Hazel is sedated and bed-ridden. Hazel’s husband hires Vida to keep tabs on his unpredictable wife and to care for his sole surviving son. Forced to spend time together, the two women find they have more in common than they thought, and together they turn the town on its head. Reviewed by Jana Siciliano.

-Click here for the reading group guide.

THE DEVIL IS HERE IN THESE HILLS: West Virginia's Coal Miners and Their Battle for Freedom by James Green (History)
From before the dawn of the 20th century until the arrival of the New Deal, one of the most protracted and deadly labor struggles in American history was waged in West Virginia. The fight for unionization and civil rights sparked a political crisis verging on civil war that stretched from the creeks and hollows to the courts and the US Senate. In THE DEVIL IS HERE IN THESE HILLS, celebrated labor historian James Green tells the story of West Virginia and coal like never before. Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott.

THE ASSASSINATION OPTION: A Clandestine Operations Novel by W.E.B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV (Historical Thriller/Adventure)
James Cronley’s first successful mission for the about-to-be-official new Central Intelligence Directorate has drawn all kinds of attention. However, complications are springing up on all sides. He's discovered a surprising alliance between the former German intelligence chief and, of all things, the Mossad. A German family that Cronley never knew he had has suddenly, and suspiciously, emerged. And he’s due for a rendezvous with an undercover agent against the Soviets known only as Seven K. Reviewed by Judy Gigstad.

BLACK RIVER by S. M. Hulse (Western)
When Wes Carver returns to Black River, he carries two things in the cab of his truck: his wife’s ashes and a letter from the prison parole board. The convict who held him hostage during a riot 20 years ago is being considered for release. How can a man who once embodied evil ever come to good? How can he pay for such crimes with anything but his life? As Wes considers his own choices and grieves for all he’s lost, he must decide what he believes and if he can let Bobby Williams walk away. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

THE DEVIL YOU KNOW by Elisabeth de Mariaffi (Literary Thriller)
Rookie crime beat reporter Evie Jones is haunted by the unsolved murder of her best friend, Lianne Gagnon, who was killed in 1982, back when both girls were 11. The suspected killer, a repeat offender named Robert Cameron, was never arrested, leaving Lianne’s case cold. Now 21 and living alone for the first time, Evie is obsessively drawn to finding out what really happened to Lianne. She leans on another childhood friend, David Patton, for help --- but every clue they uncover seems to lead to an unimaginable conclusion. Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum.

WATCH ME GO by Mark Wisniewski (Noir Thriller)
Douglas “Deesh” Sharp has managed to stay out of trouble living in the Bronx, paying his rent by hauling junk for cash. But on the morning Deesh and two pals head upstate to dispose of a sealed oil drum whose contents smell and weigh enough to contain a human corpse, he becomes mixed up in a serious crime. When his plans for escape spiral terribly out of control, Deesh quickly finds himself a victim of betrayal --- and the prime suspect in the murders of three white men. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub.

AN APPETITE FOR VIOLETS by Martine Bailey (Historical Fiction)
Forced to accompany her new mistress to Italy, under-cook Biddy Leigh documents her adventures and culinary discoveries in an old household book of recipes. In London, she finds herself attracted to her mistress’s younger brother. In France, she discovers her mistress’s dark secret. At last, in Italy, Biddy becomes embroiled in a murderous conspiracy, knowing that the secrets she holds could be the key to a better life --- or her downfall. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.
Our Latest Poll and Word of Mouth Contest

How many of your friends enjoy reading books?

  • All of them
  • Most of them
  • Some of them
  • None of them
Do you talk about books with your book-loving friends?

  • All of the time
  • Some of the time
  • Never
  • None of my friends enjoy reading books.
-Click here to answer the poll.

Word of Mouth:

Tell us your current reading recommendations with your comments and a rating of 1 to 5 stars. During the contest period from February 6th to February 20th, FIVE lucky readers each will be randomly chosen to win a copy of CRAZY LOVE YOU by Lisa Unger, MY SUNSHINE AWAY by M.O. Walsh and A SPOOL OF BLUE THREAD by Anne Tyler.

To make sure other readers will be able to find the books you write about, please include the full title and correct author names (your entry must include these to be eligible to win). For complete rules and guidelines, click here.

Please note: You must enter your full address, using correct capitalization and filling in all fields if you would like to be eligible to win this prize.

Also, we realize that many times, your opinion of a book will change as you get further along into the story. Thus, to ensure that your comments and ratings accurately reflect your entire reading experience, your review WILL NOT be posted if you have not finished the book.

One important technical note: If you're using an iPad or another iOS device to access the Word of Mouth page and you would like to enter the contest, you must wait for the page to fully load before you can rate your book. Only then will the stars be clickable.

-Click here to enter the contest.
-To see reader comments from previous contest periods, 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.

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

The Book Report Network
250 W. 57th Street - Suite 1228
New York, New York 10107
connect with us twitterfacebook