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September 2008 Newsletter

September 2008

This Month on

And Another Thing.....

THE BLACK TOWER by Louis Bayard

Now Available in Paperback: SWIM TO ME by Betsy Carter

Now Available in Paperback: BLOODLETTING & MIRACULOUS CURES by Vincent Lam

TRAIN TO TRIESTE by Domnica Radulescu

THE SEAMSTRESS by Frances de Pontes Peebles

WHEN THE SOUL MENDS: Sisters of the Quilt, Book 3 by Cindy Woodsmall
WOUNDED: A Love Story, by Claudia Mair Burney

What's New on the Blog

Introducing the Book Club Makeover

Book Group Expo 2008 -- October 25th and 26th in San Jose

Registered Book Club Offers
New Guides Now Available
This Month's Poll and Tip

This Month's Contest Book: MATRIMONY by Joshua Henkin

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

And Another Thing.....

This newsletter is arriving in your mailboxes a tad later than we planned this month, but there is a reason. I just kept coming up with more to add to it. I am not kidding. I joke that, when I travel, I come up with ideas. Well, this summer I traveled a lot, so there was lots of time for thinking. Now that I have stopped traveling --- I am going nowhere for the entire month of September --- I am getting some new projects and programs into play.

The first idea came from traveling around and meeting people in book clubs. Over and over again I heard from people who felt that their book clubs were in a rut, or needed some new ideas, or had pesky situations cropping up that needed tending to. The more I heard these stories, the more I thought, "These book clubs need a makeover." So we came up with our Book Club Makeover program. Each month we will select groups and address their issues on the site. You may have the problems we already have heard; you may have something else that is keeping your group experience from being optimum. We want to hear from you. 

We're pulling together some "book club experts" who will be working with us on this. It's really going to be fun --- and informative. Read on for more about this, and click here if your group needs a makeover.

While I vowed not to travel in September, I do have a couple of events in New York that you may be interested in. On Monday, September 22nd I am going to be on a panel at Publishers Weekly's Book Publishing 101: A One-Day Course for Writers on How Publishing Really Works, which is geared towards aspiring writers. Interested? Details on the program can be found here. On Sunday September 28th I am moderating the Waldorf Astoria's Bestsellers Brunch, which is part of the New York is Book Country program (though the NYIBC events will be held in Central Park on September 21st). The guests include Harlan Coben, Lawrence Block, Marlo Thomas and Dionne Warwick, as well as debut authors Matthew Quick and Rivka Galchen. Click here for ticket information.

In October I am back on a plane going to...California! Yes, I am headed back across the country, lured there by Book Group Expo, the book group event that is being held in San Jose on October 25th and 26th. This is the third year for this program. In previous years I had conflicts the weekend of the event and could not attend and regretted it. This time I am looking forward to it and hope to see many of you there. We have more information about Book Group Expo later in this newsletter. If you are attending, let me know. I may pull together a special gathering. Esther Bushell, one of our bloggers, will be there as well!

Speaking of our blog, I am thrilled to announce that we have been nominated for a Book Blogger Appreciation Week (BBAW is September 15th-19th) Award on My Friend Amy's blog (Amy is a very avid reader). Voting only lasts until midnight tonight (another reason I wish we were getting this newsletter to you sooner), so if you like the Blog, please vote for us here in the Best Book Club category. We'll know if we won next week! Just being nominated was one cool thrill, especially since our blog is relatively new.

Please note that we have added links onto the blog page so you not only can sign up to have an RSS feed of it delivered to your Google, Yahoo or other alert page, but also add it to your MySpace, Facebook and other social networking sites.

One more travel note. In November I am going to the Miami Book Fair, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary. I love this event, which I have attended the last three years. It features hundreds of authors and lots of great bookish conversation. The events run from November 9th-16th, with the street fair on the 14th through the 16th. They have pulled together some GREAT travel packages for those traveling from New York, Washington DC, Chicago and Los Angeles that you can read more about here.

We have two Registered Book Club offers this month. Our featured titles are Beside a Burning Sea by John Shors and Land of a Hundred Wonders by Lesley Kagen. Groups who have registered with us by Tuesday, September 16th have the chance to win author chats and free books. If your group is not registered, click here to register.

Tonight I am planning to go out to the Clinton Book Shop in Clinton here in New Jersey to see Robin Gaby Fisher, who wrote After the Fire, talk about the Seton Hall fire and the aftermath. I had read Robin's Pulitzer Prize-nominated coverage of these events in The Star Ledger, and I am looking forward to meeting her. Her writing was both sensitive and informative.

Many of you have written to tell me how you enjoy this monthly newsletter. If you are not aware, I also do a weekly newsletter at, where each week we bring you reviews, interviews and my bookish adventures. If you find yourself with a yearning for a weekly book fix, may I suggest you take a look at it here? If you like what you see, sign up for it here. Reading through some of the back issues will get you caught up on my vacation reading and the adventures of getting my older son off to school. 

I am reading The Eight by Katherine Neville that was published 20(!) years ago in anticipation of the release of her sequel, The Fire, which will be in stores on October 14th.

Let me stop here before this becomes the October newsletter! Read on....

Carol Fitzgerald ([email protected])


THE BLACK TOWER by Louis Bayard

1818. Hector Carpentier, a medical student, lives with his widowed mother in Paris’s Latin Quarter. When his name is found in the pocket of a murdered man, the case is turned over to Eugène François Vidocq, the most feared man in the Paris police. At first suspicious of Hector’s role in the murder, Vidocq gradually draws him into an exhilarating --- and dangerous --- search that leads them to the true story of what happened to the son of the murdered royal family.

-Click here to see our Historical Fiction feature for Louis Bayard and The Black Tower on


Click here to read the guide for The Black Tower.


Now Available in Paperback: SWIM TO ME by Betsy Carter

A coming-of-age novel for every age, this is the story of Delores Walker, a 17-year-old girl from the Bronx who dreams of becoming a mermaid. And not just any mermaid: Delores wants to join the troupe of dazzling, sequined aquatic showgirls at Weeki Wachee Springs, a Florida tourist attraction she visited on a vacation with her parents. Brimming with colorful characters and poignant turns of fate, her new life is a wondrous lesson in magical living.
Click here to read the guide for Swim to Me.


Now Available in Paperback: BLOODLETTING & MIRACULOUS CURES by Vincent Lam

Provocative, heartbreaking and darkly humorous, Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures introduces readers to a masterful new voice in fiction. A practicing ER physician, Vincent Lam delivers a precise and intimate portrait of the medical profession in his fiction debut. These 12 interwoven stories follow a group of young doctors as they move from the challenges of medical school to the intense world of emergency rooms, evacuation missions and terrifying new viruses. Winner of the prestigious Giller Prize, Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures marks the arrival of a deeply humane and preternaturally gifted writer.

Click here to read the guide for Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures.


TRAIN TO TRIESTE by Domnica Radulescu

In the summer of 1977, 17-year-old Mona Manoliu falls in love with Mihai, a mysterious boy who lives in Brasov. She can think of nothing, and no one, else. But as the political situation in Romania deteriorates, Mona leaves the country without saying a final good-bye to Mihai and begins a new life in America. Although she struggles to bury her longing for the past, she finds herself compelled to return to her country, determined to learn the truth about her one great love.
Click here to read the guide for Train to Trieste.


THE SEAMSTRESS by Frances de Pontes Peebles

As seamstresses, the orphaned sisters Emília and Luzia dos Santos know how to cut, how to mend and how to conceal. These are useful skills in the backcountry of Brazil, where vigilantes called cangaceiros make the rules. Emília dreams of falling in love and escaping to the city. Luzia also longs to escape their little town, where residents view her deformed arm with suspicion.

But when Luzia is abducted by a group of cangaceiros led by the infamous Hawk, the sisters’ quiet lives diverge in ways they never imagined.


Click here to read the guide for The Seamstress.

WHEN THE SOUL MENDS: Sisters of the Quilt, Book 3 by Cindy Woodsmall
After receiving a desperate and confusing call from her sister, Hannah Lapp reluctantly returns to the Old Order Amish community of her Pennsylvania childhood. Having fled in disgrace more than two years earlier, she finally has settled into a satisfying role in the Englischer world. She also has found love and a new family. But almost immediately after her arrival in Owl’s Perch, the disapproval of those who ostracized her, including her headstrong father, reopens old wounds.

When the Soul Mends is the third title in Cindy Woodsmall’s Sisters of the Quilt series.


Click here to read the guide for When the Soul Mends.

WOUNDED: A Love Story, by Claudia Mair Burney
Poor in health but rich in faith, Gina Merritt --- a young, broke, African American single mother --- sits in a pew on Ash Wednesday and has a holy vision. Afterwards, she and a man named Anthony Priest search for the truth behind this miraculous event, crossing paths along the way with a skeptical evangelical pastor, a gentle Catholic priest, a certifiable religious zealot and an oversized transvestite drug dealer, all of whom lend their opinion. It’s a quest for truth, sanity and grace...and an unexpected love story.

Click here to read the guide for Wounded.


What's New on the Blog

Our exciting NEW Blog is giving us a chance to talk to you on a regular basis. Throughout the month we are sharing postings from regular contributors --- including authors, librarians, book club facilitators, booksellers and experts in the publishing industry --- as well as special guests. The latest blog can be found here, and here are quick links to some recent posts:

-Book Clubs in the News
-Charles Martin Rocks the Pulpwood Queens Boat
-Jill Pitkeathley: Jane Austen's Enduring Allure
-Cast Your Votes

-Joyce Hinnefeld: Garnering Book Club Insight
-American Wife
-Misjudging a Book Club Selection
-Invite an Author, Reap the Rewards
-Books You've Read in a Day
-What's So Great About a Book Club?
-Joshua Henkin: Shouting Matches and More
-Garth Stein: The Art of Visiting a Reading Group

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


Introducing the Book Club Makeover

Whether your book club is just a few months old or has been around for a while, you might be in need of a Book Club Makeover from After reading your emails --- and talking to book clubs across the country --- we see that book groups often can fall into a routine and need a bit of livening up. It’s to the rescue! We’ll select groups each month for makeovers, review the problems and make suggestions. Interested in a Book Club Makeover for your group? Click here for details.

Click here for more information about the Book Club Makeover.


Book Group Expo 2008 -- October 25th and 26th in San Jose

Looking for a way to meet up with other book groups and to have the opportunity to meet authors whose books are perfect for great book club discussions? Then you want to attend the third annual Book Group Expo in San Jose, California on October 25th and 26th. 

More than 75 authors will be there, including Annie Barrows, author of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society; Andre Dubus III, author of The Garden of Last Days; Kate Jacobs, author of The Friday Night Knitting Club; Ann Packer, author of Songs Without Words; and Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain. For a complete list of authors, click here.

In addition to the Literary Salons that include authors and various panel conversations, this two-day event includes a Marketplace featuring onsite vendors ready to introduce you to products available to enhance your book group and reading experience, including tastings of wine, tea, chocolate and other savory and sweet delights.

Coming in from out of town? Be sure to check out the discounted hotel rates at the official Book Group Expo hotels.

Click here to find out more about Book Group Expo and to get your tickets.

Registered Book Club Offers
For September we have TWO very special opportunities for Registered Book Groups. Our featured titles this month are Beside a Burning Sea by John Shors and Land of a Hundred Wonders by Lesley Kagen. Groups who have registered with us by Tuesday, September 16th have the chance to win author chats and free books. If your group is not registered, click here to register.

Beside a Burning Sea by John Shors --- Author Chat and Book Giveaway: 10 groups will have the opportunity to chat with John Shors and receive 15 copies of the book.

More About Beside a Burning Sea:
One moment, the World War II hospital ship Benevolence is patrolling the Pacific. The next, she is split in two by a torpedo, killing almost everyone on board. A small band of survivors makes it to the deserted shore of a nearby island.

Akira has suffered five years of bloodshed and horror fighting for the Japanese empire. Now, surrounded by enemies he is supposed to hate, he instead finds solace in their company --- and rediscovers his love of poetry. Sharing the mystery and beauty of his favorite poems with the beautiful American woman he has rescued, he watches as the others confront their own passions and demons.

Land of a Hundred Wonders by Lesley Kagen --- Author Chat and Book Giveaway: Five groups will have the opportunity to chat with Lesley Kagen and receive 10 copies of the book.

More About Land of a Hundred Wonders:
From the highly acclaimed author of Whistling in the Dark comes another unforgettable story…

Brain damaged after a tragic car accident that took both her parents, Gibby is now NQR (Not Quite Right) --- a real challenge for the fledgling newspaper reporter. Especially when she stumbles upon the dead body of the next governor of Kentucky, Buster Malloy. Armed with her trusty blue spiral notebook, Gibby figures that solving the murder might be her best chance to prove to everyone that she can become Quite Right again.

Click here to register your group.

New Guides Now Available

The following guides are now available on

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
Beside a Burning Sea by John Shors
The Black Tower by Louis Bayard
Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures: Stories by Vincent Lam
Brother, I'm Dying by Edwidge Danticat
The Careful Use of Compliments by Alexander McCall Smith
Cloud Nine by Luanne Rice
Dream Country by Luanne Rice
Here at the End of the World We Learn to Dance by Lloyd Jones
The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent
Home by Marilynne Robinson
Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution -- and How It Can Renew America by Thomas L. Friedman
Interred with their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell
The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt
Land of a Hundred Wonders by Lesley Kagen
Scot on the Rocks by Brenda Janowitz
The Seamstress by Frances de Pontes Peebles
The Secret's in the Sauce: The Potluck Catering Club, Book 1 by Linda Evans Shepherd and Eva Marie Everson
Swim to Me by Betsy Carter
Train to Trieste by Domnica Radulescu
The Various Flavors of Coffee by Anthony Capella
When the Soul Mends: Sisters of the Quilt, Book 3 by Cindy Woodsmall

Please note that these titles, for which we already had the guides when they appeared in hardcover, are now available in paperback:

The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold
The House of Lanyon by Valerie Anand
Matrimony by Joshua Henkin
The Rabbi's Daughter by Reva Mann

We have the following new guides for Christian book groups:

He Loves Me!: Learning to Live in the Father's Affection by Wayne Jacobsen

Hometown Favorite by Bill Barton and Henry O. Arnold
Lookin' Back, Texas by Leanna Ellis
Messy Faith: Daring to Live by Grace
by A. J. Gregory
A Passion Redeemed: The Daughters of Boston, Book 2
by Julie Lessman
The Purse-uit of Holiness: Learning to Imitate the Master Designer
by Rhonda Rhea
The Queen of Sleepy Eye
by Patti Hill
Sarah's Promise: Country Road Chronicles, Book 4
by Leisha Kelly
Shadow of Colossus: Seven Wonders Series, Book 1
by T. L. Higley
Wounded: A Love Story
by Claudia Mair Burney


This Month's Poll and Tip

Are you a member of more than one book club?
No, but I wish I was

Tip for September:

Start a blog for your group where you can share your thoughts on books and your club’s book discussions.

Click here to answer the poll.


This Month's Contest Book: MATRIMONY by Joshua Henkin

Win a copy of Matrimony by Joshua Henkin 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 October 1, 2008. If you are receiving this newsletter in your mailbox, you already are signed up!

More About
It’s 1987, and Julian Wainwright, aspiring writer and Waspy son of New York City old money, meets beautiful, Jewish Mia Mendelsohn in the laundry room at Graymont College. So begins a relationship that spans 20 years, as it takes Julian and Mia across the country and through the depths of family tragedy, love and friendship, money and ambition, desire and tensions of faith.

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 ([email protected])

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