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April 2007 Newsletter

April 2007

This Month on

Greetings from the Outer Banks

Viking Flights of Fiction Basket Contest --- Win SIX Books and More! First Ever Interactive Guide --- I FEEL BAD ABOUT MY NECK by Nora Ephron

Featured Viking Flights of Fiction Title: NO! I DON'T WANT TO JOIN A BOOK CLUB by Virginia Ironside




Coming Soon --- THE MISTRESS'S DAUGHTER by A.M. Homes

TALLGRASS by Sandra Dallas

LILAH by Marek Halter


THE BIG BEAUTIFUL by Pamela Duncan


New Guides Now Available

This Month's Registered Offers

Find a Guide by Title
Find a Guide by Author
Advice and Ideas
Register Your Group

Greetings from the Outer Banks

I am writing this week from the Outer Banks where I am on vacation with my family. The weather has been spectacular, which is lovely after a gray and drab New York winter. I have been getting a lot of reading done poolside, which is a treat. I usually end up "reading ahead" with books that are coming out in the next few months. One that you are going to be excited about is A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS by Khaled Hosseini who many of you know as the author of THE KITE RUNNER. It's just brilliant, and readers will not be disappointed in this sophomore effort. Again the setting is Afghanistan. It's a deeply moving story of two women that takes place over thirty years. It will be in stores on May 22nd. There's also a debut author who I want to have on your radar --- Anita Amirrezvani, whose book, THE BLOOD OF FLOWERS, is set in 17th century Persia. The protagonist is a young woman who is a carpet designer and weaver. I am not a fan of historical fiction, but this story definitely wove its way into my heart. It's on sale June 5th.

While I am here on the Outer Banks I have been taking water aerobics classes, which are led by Jamie Layton, who also manages Duck's Cottage, my favorite bookstore here. She is reading Lisa See's new one, PEONY IN LOVE, and is raving about it. It will be in stores on June 26th. You know See from SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN.

This month's lineup also has a stellar list for your groups to get reading right now! We have something for everyone, so be sure to peruse all the offerings below and on the website.

A few of you wrote asking for more time to come up with questions for our Interactive Guide for Nora Ephron's I Feel Bad About My Neck, so we are extending our offer for you to contribute ideas through the month of April. If you have read this book, with your group or on your own, we'd love to hear what you would discuss about it. I know I will be adding a few questions myself.  See below on how to send in your thoughts on this topic.

This month we share interviews with Peter Jackson and Cynthia Jenson of "The Brown Bag Book Club" from Plano, TX,  Carolyn Branch of "The First Wednesday Book Group" from Fulton, MO, Vanessa Johnson of "The Perfect Ex-Sample Book Club" from Baltimore, MD and Heather Arnold of the "Read Between the Wines" book club from McHenry, IL.

We have a contest where you can win SIX titles from the Viking Flights of Fiction Collection. See details below. Our newsletter prize this month is MOCKINGBIRD by Charles J. Shields, which is just out in paperback. To win 20 free copies of this book for your group, all you have to do is sign up for the newsletter by May 1, 2007. Not signed up? Click here.

For April we have two very special opportunities for Registered Book Groups. Our featured titles are The Girls by Lori Lansens and Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl. Registered groups have the chance to win author chats and free books. Click here for more information.

Quick business note: We are moving our servers from one location to another next Wednesday as the building that our serving company uses has been sold. We have been assured that this will go smoothly, which usually means I will lose two nights, not three, worrying about it. But for you, please note that our websites will not be accessible for at least a few hours on Wednesday morning as the transition is made. Apologies in advance for this necessary inconvenience.

I am off to water aerobics and more relaxing and reading. Happy Easter and Happy Passover to all who are celebrating.

Carol Fitzgerald ([email protected])


Click here for details about our Newsletter Contest.


Viking Flights of Fiction Basket Contest --- Win SIX Books and More!

Since January 2007 we have been spotlighting titles from Viking’s Flights of Fiction collection. This month we are giving you and your book group the chance to win one of five baskets each stocked with a copy of each of the six featured Viking Flights of Fiction titles as well as some book-themed gifts. In an oversized woven basket, winners will receive a copy of each of the following titles: The Bastard of Istanbul, The Dead Fathers Club, No! I Don't Want to Join a Book Club, Petropolis, The Saffron Kitchen and The Testament of Gideon Mack. Along with the books, winners will find a spiral-bound Book Journal and a Book Notebook, each decorated with a book-themed cover and a paperback LED booklight from LightWedge.

Click here for contest details. First Ever Interactive Guide --- I FEEL BAD ABOUT MY NECK by Nora Ephron

We received some compelling and thought-provoking discussion questions from some of you last month, but we’d love to hear from more of you. We also heard from some of you that you needed more time to talk with your group before you weighed in, so we are running this opportunity for an additional month. Click here to see the new additions to the guide for I Feel Bad About My Neck.

Submit your group's ideas for discussion questions, along with the name of your group, to [email protected] by Monday, April 30th. The finished guide will be featured with our May update, and groups whose questions are chosen to be included in the guide will be notified and credited.

More about I Feel Bad About My Neck:
With her disarming, intimate, completely accessible voice, and dry sense of humor, Nora Ephron shares with us her ups and downs in I Feel Bad About My Neck, a candid, hilarious look at women who are getting older and dealing with the tribulations of maintenance, menopause, empty nests, and life itself.
Click here to read the new discussion questions and more about I Feel Bad About My Neck.

Featured Viking Flights of Fiction Title: NO! I DON'T WANT TO JOIN A BOOK CLUB by Virginia Ironside

Marie Sharp, a child of the 1960s, is entering her own 60s. Behind her is a life full of experiences: not just marriage, family, divorce and work but also experimenting with drugs and having unprotected sex. In other words, Marie has lived. She has had adventures. She has been known to be reckless and irresponsible, at least by today’s standards. Now she’s old and wants to feel that way.

Still, maybe there are more possibilities ahead for her than she allows herself to dream --- or to admit to her diary. Perhaps, even for Marie, this new stage in life won’t turn out quite according to her simple plan.



Click here to read the guide for No! I Don't Want to Join a Book Club.



Like Brick Lane and The Kite Runner, Camilla Gibb’s widely praised new novel is a poignant and intensely atmospheric look beyond the stereotypes of Islam. After her hippie British parents are murdered, Lilly is raised at a Sufi shrine in Morocco. As a young woman she goes on pilgrimage to Harar, Ethiopia, where she teaches Qur’an to children and falls in love with an idealistic doctor. But even swathed in a traditional headscarf, Lilly can’t escape being marked as a foreigner. Forced to flee Ethiopia for England, she must once again confront the riddle of who she is and where she belongs.


Click here to read the guide for Sweetness in the Belly.


In 1960, five young men arrived at the imposing gates of Parkminster, the largest center of the most rigorous and ascetic monastic order in the Western world: the Carthusians. This is the story of their five-year journey into a society virtually unchanged in its behavior and lifestyle since its foundation in 1084. An Infinity of Little Hours is a uniquely intimate portrait of the customs and practices of a monastic order almost entirely unknown until now. It is also a drama of the men's struggle as they avoid the 1960s --- the decade of hedonism, music, fashion, and amorality --- and enter an entirely different era and a spiritual world of their own making. After five years each must face a choice: to make "solemn profession" and never leave Parkminster; or to turn his back on his life's ambition to find God in solitude.

A remarkable investigative work, the book combines first-hand testimony with unique source material to describe the Carthusian life. And in the final chapter, which recounts a reunion forty years after the events described elsewhere in the book, Nancy Klein Maguire reveals which of the five succeeded in their quest, and which did not.

Click here to read the guide for An Infinity of Little Hours.


Raised like sisters, Mariamne and Salome are indulged with riches, position, and learning --- a rare thing for females in Jerusalem. But Mariamne has a further gift: an illness has left her with visions; she has the power of prophecy. It is her prophesying that drives the two girls to flee to Egypt, where they study philosophy, mathematics, and astronomy in the Great Library of Alexandria.

This radical retelling of the greatest story ever told brings Mary Magdalene to life --- not as a prostitute or demon-possessed --- but as an educated woman who was truly the “apostle to the apostles.”

Click here to read the guide for The Secret Magdalene.


Coming Soon --- THE MISTRESS'S DAUGHTER by A.M. Homes

Before A.M. Homes was born, she was put up for adoption. Her birth mother was a twenty-two-year-old single woman who was having an affair with a much older married man with children of his own. The Mistress’s Daughter is the story of what happened when, thirty years later, her birth parents came looking for her.

Please note: The guide for The Mistress's Daughter will be posted on the week of April 9th.

Click here to read more about The Mistress's Daughter.

TALLGRASS by Sandra Dallas

During World War II, a family finds life turned upside down when the government opens a Japanese internment camp in their small Colorado town. After a young girl is murdered, all eyes (and suspicions) turn to the newcomers, the interlopers, the strangers.

This is Tallgrass as Rennie Stroud has never seen it before. She has just turned thirteen and, until this time, life has pretty much been what her father told her it should be: predictable and fair. But now the winds of change are coming and, with them, a shift in her perspective. And Rennie will discover secrets that can destroy even the most sacred things.

Part thriller, part historical novel, Tallgrass is a riveting exploration of the darkest --- and best --- parts of the human heart

-Click here to read our One to Watch feature for Sandra Dallas on

Click here to read the guide for Tallgrass.

LILAH by Marek Halter

Set in the magnificent culture of the Middle East more than four thousand years ago, Lilah is a rich and emotionally resonant story of faith, love, and courage.

Living in exile, Lilah is in love with Antinoes, a Persian warrior. They have known each other since they were children, and Antinoes dearly wants to make Lilah his wife. Yet Lilah does not feel she can marry without the blessing of her brother, Ezra. She and Ezra are close, and Lilah knows her brother well --- he does not want his sister to have a husband outside their faith. Ezra is a scholar of the laws of Moses, and Lilah believes it is her brother’s destiny to lead the Jewish people back to the Promised Land. While Antinoes pressures her to accept his proposal, Lilah realizes that before she can consider her own happiness, it is her duty to help her brother accomplish the seemingly impossible task that is before him.

Click here to read the guide for Lilah.


Even before college, Bitsy Lerner had her whole life figured out: marry, have kids, move to the suburbs, and spend heavenly days packing lunches and driving carpools. At age 43, things have gone exactly as planned. With a solid marriage, two great kids, and a darling house, so what if her husband is vague about his business dealings. Or her overbearing mother-in-law finds novel ways to torture her. And her parents radiate constant disapproval. And her friends are shallow. And her daughter’s clothes never cover her navel. And her son spends all his time playing sports. She’s living the charmed life she always wanted. Right?

Click here to read the guide for A Little Bit Married.

THE BIG BEAUTIFUL by Pamela Duncan

The critically acclaimed author returns to the North Carolina landscape she knows so well with this gloriously written sequel to Moon Women.

On an eastbound North Carolina interstate highway, the mountains and her hometown far behind, Cassandra Moon realizes that she has not only broken the heart of the one man who's ever asked her to marry --- on their wedding day, no less --- but she's driven the limousine into the ground, gotten "skunk drunk" on the champagne, and has somehow managed to get herself stuck in the sunroof while still in her wedding gown. Caught in a whirlwind of taffeta and tulle, heartache and second guesses, Cassandra desperately needs some peace of mind.

When she arrives in the coastal town of Salter Path --- disheveled and in the company of a mysterious red-haired seafaring man --- Cassandra knows for sure that her life has taken a turn she can't quite understand. But the people Cassandra encounters on this unexpected odyssey will share with her the hurts and hopes of a lifetime, and she may finally realize that getting lost in this oceanside town, in the memories and dreams of its people, is the only way she'll be found.

Click here to read the guide for The Big Beautiful.


Picture a woman whose hopes and goals have faded to the bottom of her to-do list, though she does a great job of fulfilling everyone else’s dreams. She devotes hours of emotional and physical energy to social commitments and the needs of others. She feels as if she is drowning in a never-ending flood of responsibilities. As she reads these words, Joan Anderson is about to throw her a lifeline. The woman in crisis may be you, or she may be someone close to you. In either case, A Weekend to Change Your Life will set in motion a beautiful makeover of the soul.

Click here to read the guide for A Weekend to Change Your Life.


New Guides Now Available

The following guides are now available on

Acceptance by Susan Coll
The Bark of the Dogwood by Jackson Tippett McCrae
The Big Beautiful by Pamela Duncan
The Edge of Winter by Luanne Rice
The Girls by Lori Lansens
Helpless by Barbara Gowdy
An Infinity of Little Hours by Nancy Klein Maguire 
Katzenjammer by Jackson Tippett McCrae
Lilah by Marek Halter
A Little Bit Married by Debra Borden
The Mistress's Daughter by A. M. Homes --- Guide to Come
Mockingbird by Charles J Shields
Plum Wine by Angela Davis-Gardner
Right Before Your Eyes by Ellen Shanman
The Secret Magdalene by Ki Longfellow
Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder
Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl
Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb
Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas
Transparency by Frances Hwang
A Weekend to Change You Life by Joan Anderson

Please note that this title, for which we already had the guide when it appeared in hardcover, is now available in paperback:

On Becoming Fearless by Arianna Huffington

We have the following new guide for Christian Book Groups:

90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper with Cecil Murphey


This Month's Registered Offers

For April we have two very special opportunities for Registered Book Groups. Our featured titles are The Girls by Lori Lansens and Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl. Registered groups have the chance to win author chats and free books. The following opportunities are available to groups that have registered their book clubs with us by April 13th.

The Girls by Lori Lansens --- Author Chat and Book Giveaway: 25(!) groups will have the opportunity to chat with Lori Lansens and receive 12 copies of the book.

More about The Girls:
Rarely has the experience of being a sister been so poignantly and memorably captured as in Lori Lansens's triumphant novel. The Girls celebrates life's fundamental joys and trials as it presents Rose and Ruby, sisters destined to live inseparably but blessed with distinct sensibilities that enrich and complicate their shared experiences-of growing up, of finding their way in the world, of saying good-bye.

Readers who encounter the girls will find it hard to resist falling under their spell.

Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl --- Author Chat and Book Giveaway. A certain number of groups (TBD) will have the opportunity to chat with Marisha Pessl and receive 12 copies of the book.

More about Special Topics in Calamity Physics:
Special Topics in Calamity Physics, the dazzling debut of Marisha Pessl, is a buoyant combination of comedy, tragedy, mystery, and romance, a story of disturbing secrets and the eccentric high school student Blue Van Meer who uncovers them. In vivid prose sprinkled with literary and cultural references, Pessl weaves a complicated tale of self-awakening in a postmodern world.

In one life-changing year, Blue will unveil a mystery bigger than her own life. Along the way she will learn to act like a teenager, to love unexpectedly, and to think for herself. Special Topics in Calamity Physics is a coming-of-age tale and a disturbing mystery, a snapshot of the dark relationship between ideology and violence but also the poignant tale of a young woman learning to stand on her own. Pessl is a virtuosic writer, energetic and erudite, perceptive about relationships, history, and politics, and able to paint a portrait of contemporary youth alongside a complicated picture of the political battles waged by their parents’ generation. Starting with a “Core Curriculum,” and complete with citations, Web sites, footnotes, and even a final exam, Pessl guides us through the dynamic evolution of Blue van Meer, named after a butterfly, from cocooned caterpillar to free-flying individual.

Click here to register your group.

Do you like what you see here, and want to forward it to a friend? Then click our link on the bottom of the page to do just that!

Happy reading. We'll see you next month.

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Carol Fitzgerald ([email protected])

The Book Report Network
250 W. 57th Street - Suite 1228
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