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August 2007 Newsletter

August 2007

This Month on

Classic Reading...

MISTER PIP by Lloyd Jones  


PIECES OF MY SISTER'S LIFE by Elizabeth Joy Arnold

CONSUMPTION by Kevin Patterson

MOLOKA'I by Alan Brennert



For Christian Readers

Contest Winners

Our Summer Beach Bag Contest on

This Month's Book Club Interviews

New Guides Now Available

This Month's Poll and Tip

This Month's Contest Book

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

Classic Reading...

We are in week three of an office renovation that is consuming my days, leaving me only the evenings for working. Our entire staff is working from their homes while my older son, Greg, who is with us at the office for the summer, is with me in New York. There have been moments of complete frustration with this project coupled with some hilarious times. We both are tired of carrying furniture from room to room, and I confess that when book shipments arrive we both laugh trying to figure WHERE we can store them until the staff returns and still stay one step ahead of the construction crew. Tonight, in utter frustration, I just stashed a box in my car!

Today they were laying the new carpeting, and thus we were sprung for the day. In fact we were told NOT to come to the office during the day. I took a much-needed few hours away from building plans, banging and endless questions to enjoy an afternoon at a benefit luncheon where Adriana Trigiani was the speaker. She is a favorite of book clubs, and her talk was full of hilarious anecdotes about being both Italian and Catholic. She talked about her next book, which will be coming in May 2008. It’s currently untitled, but we know that the plot will deal with a family of cobblers in Greenwich Village. These few hours of constant laughing and good humor have energized me to wrap up the office project. Isn’t it nice when an author can do that for you?

When Adriana was talking, she told us that her favorite book was Jane Eyre. When asked this question, many authors will respond with a classic title. Okay, I have a huge confession here. I am not a fan of any classic titles. A second confession: as Jane Austen fever is everywhere these days, I cannot remember reading any Jane Austen books. I know, shocking. With not one but two Jane Austen-related titles being made into movies --- Becoming Jane Austen and The Jane Austen Book Club --- and with new books like Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler coming out, my lack of Jane Austen culture has me caught in the headlights like a deer on a country road. Thus, our poll this month is about just this as we ask about your reading of Austen and Austen-related works.

And talk of the classics does not end with these titles this month. Set in Bougainville in the South Pacific during the civil war in the early 1990s, the character of Pip from Great Expectations is the influence of Mister Pip, a new novel from Lloyd Jones. I look forward to hearing reader reactions to this very smart novel, which is our newsletter contest book this month. See details on this contest below.

A few weeks ago I spent a lovely weekend reading Pieces of My Sister’s Life, which we are featuring this month. I confess to melting into a puddle of tears at the end. For those of you who loved My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult and Summer Sisters by Judy Blume, you will want to take a look at this one for its powerful story of the bond between sisters that is nurtured, lost and rekindled. 

We know that many groups are “on vacation” in August, and thus our tip talks about doing something different this month as we suggest you visit a bookstore with your group and spend time walking the aisles with your fellow book club members talking about the books you love. What a great way to discover some new books for both book club discussions and your own pleasure reading.  

By the way, my favorite book, A Trace of Footprints, by Ruth Wolff, is now out of print. It’s one of the few books I have re-read on more than one occasion. And I still would love to track down Wolff for a conversation.

Two last Harry Potter notations: You can read the results of our Harry Potter Survey here, and you can vote for the title that you think is the best Harry Potter book here. 

Here's to another great month of reading. We will see you in September.

Carol Fitzgerald (


Click here to let us know your favorite Harry Potter book. Great Expectations Find your local independent bookseller here.

MISTER PIP by Lloyd Jones  

After the trouble starts and the soldiers arrive on Matilda's island, only one white person stays behind. Mr. Watts, whom the kids call Pop Eye, wears a red nose and pulls his wife around on a trolley, and he steps in to teach the children when there is no one else. His only lessons consist of reading from his battered copy of Great Expectations, a book by his friend Mr. Dickens.

For Matilda, Dickens's hero Pip becomes as real to her as her own mother, and the greatest friendship of her life has begun. Soon Mr. Watts's book begins to inflame the children's imaginations with dreams about Dickens's London and the larger world. But how will they answer when the soldiers demand to know: where is this man named Pip?

Set against the stunning beauty of Bougainville in the South Pacific during the civil war in the early 1990s, Lloyd Jones's breathtaking novel shows what magic a child's imagination makes possible even in the face of terrible violence and what power stories have to fuel the imagination.


Click here to read the guide for Mister Pip.



In this Jane Austen-inspired comedy, love story, and exploration of identity and destiny, a modern LA girl wakes up as an Englishwoman in Austen's time.

After nursing a broken engagement with Jane Austen novels and Absolut, Courtney Stone wakes up and finds herself not in her Los Angeles bedroom or even in her own body, but inside the bedchamber of a woman in Regency England. Who but an Austen addict like herself could concoct such a fantasy?

Not only is Courtney stuck in another woman's life, she is forced to pretend she actually is that woman; and despite knowing nothing about her, she manages to fool even the most astute observer. Try as she might to control her mind and find a way home, Courtney cannot deny that she is becoming this other woman --- and being this other woman is not without its advantages: Especially in a looking-glass Austen world. Especially with a suitor who may not turn out to be a familiar species of philanderer after all.


Click here to read the guide for Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict.


PIECES OF MY SISTER'S LIFE by Elizabeth Joy Arnold

Twin sisters Kerry and Eve Barnard shared one soul, one language and one future, sailing the Block Island harbor with their father, shouldering each other's longing for their absent mother, and losing themselves in their neighbor Justin's stories about a magical world called Canardia. Until the tumultuous, tragic summer of their sixteenth birthday, when their father's death upends their world and they learn that what they both want is a future only one of them can have.

Thirteen years later, Kerry returns to her childhood home to comfort her terminally ill sister and to confront Justin, the husband she thought would be hers, and Gillian, the daughter who looks just like her --- hoping to finally bring closure to the dark secrets and cruel betrayals that tore the sisters apart.

Beautiful, heartbreaking, and insightful, this debut novel explores the passions that shape our lives, the pain of dealing with a loved one's illness, and the unbreakable bonds of sisterhood.


Click here to read the guide for Pieces of My Sister's Life.


CONSUMPTION by Kevin Patterson

In Rankin Inlet, a small town bordering the Arctic Ocean, the lives of the Inuit are gradually changing. The caribou and seals are no longer plentiful, and Western commerce has come to the community through a proposed diamond mine. Victoria Robertson wakes to a violent storm, her three children stirring in the dark. Her father, Emo, a legendary hunter who has come in off the land to work in a mine, checks to see if the family is all right. So does her Inuit lover, as Victoria's British husband is away on business.

Thus the reader enters into the modern contradictions of the Arctic --- walrus meat and convenience food, midnight sun and 24-hour satellite TV, dog teams and diamond mines --- and into the heart of Victoria's internal exile. Over the years, as her children gravitate toward the pop culture of the mainland, and as her husband aggressively exploits the economic opportunities that the Arctic offers, Victoria feels torn between her family and her ancestors, between the communal life of the North and the material life of the "South." Spanning countries, generations, and cultures, Consumption is an epic novel of the Arctic, and a penetrating portrait of generational division and cultural dissonance.


Click here to read the guide for Consumption.


MOLOKA'I by Alan Brennert

Moloka'i is the story of Rachel Kalama, a young native Hawaiian girl growing up in Honolulu at the end of the 19th century, who at age seven is diagnosed with Hansen's disease, taken from her family, and exiled to the leprosy settlement on a remote peninsula on the island of Moloka'i. It is the story of her life there, the friends who become her family, the man she falls in love with and marries, the child she is forced to give up, and her eventual, miraculous release from exile.

Though a work of fiction, Moloka'i is based very much on fact. The author weaves real, historical patients and caregivers --- from Father Damien to Mother Marianne Cope to the governor of the Territory of Hawai'i, Lawrence Judd --- into the fabric of the story. Most everything in the novel has its basis in history, but the book is far more than that; it is the moving story of a woman's life, a life that sadly had too many counterparts in the real world.


Click here to read the guide for Moloka'i.



The wickedly entertaining, hunger-inducing, behind-the-scenes story of the revolution in American food that has made exotic ingredients, celebrity chefs, rarefied cooking tools, and destination restaurants familiar aspects of our everyday lives.

The United States of Arugula is a rollicking, revealing stew of culinary innovation, food politics, and kitchen confidences chronicling how gourmet eating in America went from obscure to pervasive --- and became the cultural success story of our era.


Click here to read the guide for The United States of Arugula.



For young Peony, betrothed to a suitor she has never met, the lyrics from The Peony Pavilion mirror her own longings. In the garden of the Chen Family Villa, amidst the scents of ginger, green tea, and jasmine, a small theatrical troupe is performing choice scenes from this epic opera, a live spectacle few girls, even women, have ever seen. Like the heroine in the drama, Peony too is cloistered and from a wealthy family, trapped like a good-luck cricket in a bamboo-and-lacquer cage. Though raised to be obedient, Peony has dreams of her own.

So begins Peony's unforgettable journey of love and destiny, desire and sorrow --- as Lisa See's haunting new novel takes readers back to 17th century China, after the Manchus seize power and the Ming dynasty is crushed. Based on a true story, Peony in Love uses the richness and magic of the Chinese afterlife to transcend death and explore the many manifestations of love. Ultimately, it's about universal themes: the bonds of female friendship, the power of words, the desire all women have to be heard, and finally those emotions that are so strong that they transcend time, place, and perhaps even death.

Click here to read the guide for Peony in Love.


For Christian Readers

Snow Angel by Jamie Carie

Noah Wesley, tending the fire in his remote Alaskan mountain cabin, heard a faint sound at the door. It was snowing violently so Noah dismissed the sound as wind. But the sound continued, growing fainter and it was no less than the voice of God that urged him to investigate.

Noah opened the door to discover a beautiful young woman unconscious and more than half frozen to death, lying in the snow. Noah would later learn her name was Elizabeth. Why was she drawn to the gold, and was it fate that drove her to risk her life in a blinding snow storm to find the one man who could lead her through the mountains and to her dream of wealth?

-Click here to read the guide for Snow Angel.

As I Have Loved You by Nikki Arana

Leigh Scott is a Christian, a widow, an author --- and a devoted single mother. Her only son, Jeff, is the light of her life. But now Jessica, a young woman with a troubled past, threatens to destroy everything Leigh and her son have worked for. Leigh cannot silently watch as her family disintegrates.

Accustomed to fighting for her son, Leigh resolves to do so again. But with all the other troubles in life, she doesn’t know where to focus. Her father is battling cancer, her parents may lose their home, her book deadline is looming, and her first love suddenly reappears. Leigh struggles to keep her balance. In the midst of it all, she cries out for a special gift from God.

When Jessica’s life takes a tragic turn, Leigh begins to understand the true gift that God has wanted to give her all along.

-Click here to read the guide for As I Have Loved You.


Contest Winners

Winners of THE OFFICE OF DESIRE Book Giveaway

Congratulations to these readers, who were randomly selected to receive a copy of The Office of Desire by Martha Moody:

Stephanie from Prattville, AL; Fran from Freehold, NJ; Linda from Gonzales, LA; Melissa from Decatur, AL; Karen from Hinsdale, NH; Sharon from Albuquerque, NM; Dawn from Springvale, ME; Michelle from Battle Creek, MI; Ruth from Oshkosh, WI; Beverly from Salisbury, MD; Mary Beth from Omaha, NE; Lisa from Toms River, NJ; Jennifer from Scottsville, NY; Beth from Mount Laurel, NJ; Carol from Rochester, NY; Marilyn from Oakland, CA; Suzy from Cranford, NJ; Connie from Mercer, PA; Carol from Gainesville, FL; M.J. from Rancho Palos Verdes, CA; Terri from St. Charles, MO; Paula from Hudson, OH; Carol from Gig Harbor, WA; Laurie from Farmington Hills, MI; Patti from Waukesha, WI; Angelina from Toms River, NJ; Rita from Coppell, TX; Janet from Bowling Green, NY; C.J. from Camas, WA; Julie from South St Paul, MN; Jane from Westminster, CA; Genny from Mocksville, NC; Mindy from Oakland Gardens, NY; Elena from San Francisco, CA; Marilyn from Wareham, MA; Ruth from San Francisco, CA; Ginni from Healdsburg, CA; Lorrie from Newtown, PA; Barbara from Charlotte, NC; Renee from Carmel, IN; Jayne from St. Louis, MO; Dorothy from Lock Haven, PA; Maryann from Syosset, NY; Michelle from St Paul, MN; Susan from Dorset, VT; Terressa from Chillicothe, OH; Suzanne from Madison, AL; Tammy from Camp Hill, PA; Cheryle from Eagan, MN; and Sarah from East Hartford, CT.

Winners of the LOTTERY Book Giveaway

Congratulations to these readers, who were randomly selected to receive two copies each of Lottery by Patricia Wood:

Juanita from West Salem, OH; Maria from El Cajon, CA; Laura from Pasadena, MD; Rita from Rushville, IN; Shannon from Odessa, FL; Jennifer from Murrieta, CA; Dorothy from Calgary AB, Canada; Debra from Pittsburgh, PA; Jeanne from Royal Oak, MI; Claire from Mineola, NY; Claudia from Oakdale, CA; Nan from Zelienople, PA; Kellie from Columbia, MO; Lori from Mankato, MN; Lindsey from Kailua-Kona, HI; Melanie from Albemarle, NC; Corrine from Austin, TX; Rosalie from Sarasota, FL; Terri from St. Charles, MO; Darby from Lecompton, KS; Susan from Lorain, OH; Debbie from Charlotte, NC; Pam from Waukesha, WI; Nancy from Onalaska, WI; Marlene from Steubenville, OH; Patricia from Towaco, NJ; Susan from San Diego, CA; Terressa from Chillicothe, OH; Wendy from Potomac, MD; Kay from Gardner, MA; Susie from Greenwood, IN; Pam from Melrose, MA; Sheri from Penn Valley, CA; Delores from Houston, TX; Dawn from Jamesville, NY; Dawn from Saskatoon, Canada; Jean from Blackwood, NJ; Janis from Castroville, TX; Carol from Rochester, NY; Andrea from High Point, NC; Sue from Florissant, MO; Kathleen from Birmingham, AL; Sue from St. Charles, MO; Michelle from Battle Creek, MI; Julie from South St Paul, MN; Alice from Clarks Summit, PA; Vicki from East Meadow, NY; Julie from West Hartford, CT; Lynn from Apple Valley, MN; and Mary Jane from Kansas City, MO.

Winners of THE BOOK THIEF Book Giveaway

Congratulations to these readers, who were randomly selected to receive a copy of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak:

Mary from Carmel, IN; Diane from Champaign, IL; Pearl from Albuquerque, NM; Tara from Briarcliff Manor, NY; Dorothy from Lock Haven, PA; Roberta from Bellingham, WA; Maria from Portsmouth, RI; Shannon from Odessa, FL; Terri from St. Charles, MO; April from Eastampton, NJ; Irene from Saratoga Springs, NY; Marlene from Steubenville, OH; Deb from Omaha, NE; Kathy from West Mifflin, PA; Carole from Phoenix, AZ; Brenda from Brookhaven, MS; Pamela from Jupiter, FL; Lorie from Deerfield, IL; Sema from Richmond, VA; and Susan from Lorain, OH.


Our Summer Beach Bag Contest on

Here's a reminder that our Third Annual Summer Beach Bag of Books promotion is running on one of our other websites, Check out these WEEKLY contests on this page, or sign up for the newsletter here to be sure you don't miss these.

Click here to see the Summer Beach Bag Contest.


This Month's Book Club Interviews

Norma Pacl of Hermitage, TN is the spokesperson and moderator for Woodhaven Bookworms. This lively group --- consisting of 10 women and 1 token male --- enjoys good food, good books and good conversation. In this interview, Norma describes how they’ve conducted their meetings for the past two-and-a-half years, shares some of their favorite reads and stresses the importance of staying open-minded and flexible during their monthly discussions.

In our second interview of the month, Kerry Reckard discusses her book club, The Cosmo Guild, of McDonald, OH. Kerry describes how they choose their books, conduct their meetings and hold family get-togethers outside of their monthly gatherings. She also explains how they received an autographed copy of Honeymoon With My Brother and shares an amusing anecdote about three members who initially came to their meetings just for the food.


Click here to read all our book club interviews.


New Guides Now Available

The following guides are now available on

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler
Consumption by Kevin Patterson
A Field of Darkness by Cornelia Read
Harmony by Joanna Goodman
Here If You Need Me by Kate Braestrup
Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones
Moloka'i by Alan Brennert
Peony in Love by Lisa See
Pieces of My Sister's Life by Elizabeth Joy Arnold
The United States of Arugula by David Kamp

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

Echo Park by Michael Connelly

We have the following new guides for Christian book groups:

All In One Place by Carolyne Aarsen
As I Have Loved You by Nikki Arana
Breaking Free by Lauraine Snelling

Snow Angel by Jamie Carie


This Month's Poll and Tip


Has your group ever read Jane Austen titles or books that are themed around Jane Austen?

We have read Jane Austen titles.
We have read Jane Austen-themed books.
We have read both Jane Austen titles and Jane Austen-themed books.
No, we have not read either of these, but it might be fun.
No, we are not interested in this.

Tip for August:

Spend a lazy August afternoon or evening shopping at your local bookstore with your book group, making it an outing to share the books you have loved and time to discover some new ones.


Click here to answer the poll.


This Month's Contest Book

Win a copy of Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones for your reading group!

To be a group to win 20 free copies of this book, all you have to do is sign up for the newsletter by September 1, 2007. If you are receiving this newsletter in your mailbox, you already are signed up!

Click here to read contest details and rules.


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.

Don't forget to visit our other websites from,,,,, and

Carol Fitzgerald (

The Book Report Network
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