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December 2008 Newsletter

December 2008

This Month on

Happy Holidays

THE PRE-NUP by Beth Kendrick

QUEEN OF THE ROAD: The True Tale of 47 States, 22,000 Miles, 200 Shoes, 2 Cats, 1 Poodle, a Husband, and a Bus with a Will of Its Own, by Doreen Orion

What's New on the Blog

Last Month's Contest Winners's Special Blog --- Authors on the Holidays

Don't Miss Our Holiday Basket of Cheer Contest on!'s What to Give/What to Get Gift Guide

A Book is the Perfect Gift Because....

This Month's Book Club Interviews

Book Groups, Librarians and Booksellers --- We Want to Hear from YOU!

New Guides Now Available
This Month's Poll: Books as Gifts
Tip for December

This Month's Contest Book: A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS by Khaled Hosseini

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

Happy Holidays

As I write this note, the entire sky outside looks fat and white. You almost can see the snow trapped back there waiting to start falling onto us. My younger son is running from window to window waiting for the first flake. I tried the "watched pot never boils" line on him, but it went right over his head. He has new snow boots and new snow pants, and he is eager to wear them both. For me a snow day means that the phone rings at 5:30, and since Fridays I write and work from home, today will be all about interruptions. As if this season already did not have enough of those!
My holiday season has been tugged at in a very big way as we just launched our eighth website in The Book Report Network,, on Wednesday night. It's been a wonderfully exciting project. We've never released a site with this much content, thus the last few months have been a real scramble as we juggled "the rest of the family" as well as the anticipated "new baby." I am looking forward to spending the next few days before we break for the holiday catching up on all those loose ends. Like many of you, I have been juggling personal and business-related holiday tasks in between all else, and I am sure that you, like me, look forward to the next weeks when those can be my focal point. So much has gone on this year that I think when I do stop, I am going to just fall asleep for an entire day.
But I am getting ahead of myself, as this note is all about sharing the latest update from
Special thanks go out this issue to Shannon McKenna, who, as many of you know, edits our Blog. She also is a contributor to the blog, and her piece about the six books that she wishes she had read with her book club this year is just wonderful. I am sure that many of you feel the same way about books that you have read. Please drop Shannon a note at [email protected] and share the books that you wish you had discussed with your group.
Also, I want to give a shout out to Anne Staszalek, who is the friendly pair of hands behind the message board and reader mail sections of Anne keeps on top of requests from our message board guests and your requests for discussion guides that are not featured on the site. Huge thanks to Anne for all she has done this year to keep on top of these portions of the site!

We wanted to let you know that Sweet Mandarin by Helen Tse is being profiled in the Redbook Culinary Getaway Competition to be drawn on December 31, 2008. One reader will win a two day/two night stay for two at the Hotel Indigo in Chicago; dinner for two at Table 52 with Helen Tse; a book prize package; and a special tasting with chef Art Smith (Oprah's chef). For more information on Sweet Mandarin, visit

Here's wishing you the best and brightest of holiday seasons. If you still are pondering holiday gifts, you may want to read the truly inspirational pieces that authors contributed to our Author Holiday Blog. For ease of reading, we are linking to them from the homepage of They are laced with humor, warm sentiments and lots to ponder about the power of giving a book.

We’ll see you next year…

Carol Fitzgerald ([email protected])


THE PRE-NUP by Beth Kendrick

For the residents of swanky Mayfair Estates, a pre-nup is just another item on the wedding to-do checklist --- but three friends get more than they bargained for when they promise to love, cherish... and sign on the dotted line.

As romance collides with real life, three very different women turn to each other for moral support and insights about how to safeguard their most valuable assets: their hearts.


Click here to read the guide for The Pre-Nup.


QUEEN OF THE ROAD: The True Tale of 47 States, 22,000 Miles, 200 Shoes, 2 Cats, 1 Poodle, a Husband, and a Bus with a Will of Its Own, by Doreen Orion

When Tim announces he wants to “chuck it all” and travel the country in an RV, Doreen asks, “Why can’t you be like a normal husband in a midlife crisis and have an affair or buy a Corvette?” They’re both psychiatrists, but he’s obviously the better shrink because the hilarious memoir the New York Post calls “a Charles Kuralt-Albert Brooks-style romp” ensues.

Eat, Pray, Love --- without the depression.” - Denver Magazine

“Charming, insightful, hilarious… the best of Bill Bryson and David Sedaris… the unique voice of a gifted memoirist.” - Jonathan Kellerman

-Visit the author's official website,

Click here to read the guide for Queen of the Road.


What's New on the Blog

Lots of authors have been writing posts for us on the Blog. Among our recent contributors are Joshua Henkin, Roland Merullo, Brunonia Barry and C. W. Gortner. Many of you are telling us you are making this blog a daily destination. The latest blog can be found here, and here are quick links to some recent posts:

-Six Titles I Wish I Had Read with My Book Club
-Book Clubs in the News

-Joshua Henkin's Book Club Adventures
-Joshua Henkin's Book Club Adventures, Part II
-The Pulpwood Queens' Best Books for Holiday Giving
-Book Club Discord
-Book Clubs at the Holidays
-Roland Merullo: The Writer-Reader Connection
-Books Clubs and Black Friday
-One-Day Thanksgiving Book Club
-Brunonia Barry: Books, Cupcakes, Mea Culpas and a Mini Pomeranian Fighting Goldfish

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.


Last Month's Contest Winners

We celebrated the paperback release of Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay --- a mesmerizing story in which a mysterious past unfolds, the present is torn apart and the future is irrevocably altered --- with a special contest. Ten groups had the opportunity to each win up to 12 finished copies of Sarah’s Key, which is now in stores, for their group. Click here to see our winners.

We also held a special contest for
Shelter Me by Juliette Fay --- a beautifully written debut novel about heartbreaking loss and emotional redemption. Thirty-five readers had the opportunity to each win one advance copy of Shelter Me, which will be in stores on December 30th, for their group. Click here to see our winners.

Thanks to all who participated!'s Special Blog --- Authors on the Holidays

Between now and Christmas Day, more than 30 authors are sharing their favorite memories of giving or receiving a book at the holidays.

The following authors have already shared their stories:

-Mary Higgins Clark: Christmas Reads Past and Present
-Carol Higgins Clark: The Makings of a Mystery Writer
-Gregg Hurwitz: LOVE SANDY
-Rita Mae Brown: The Best Present
-Mary Kay Andrews on THE SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON and the Best of Escapist Reading
-Katherine Taylor: Bad Choices in Book Giving
-John Addiego on e.e. cummings
-Wendy Corsi Staub on LITTLE WOMEN
-Kevin Rivoli: Pursuing a Dream
-Charlotte Bacon: The Portable Joys of Reading
-Debbie Macomber on James Michener's TALES OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC
-Bill Willingham: The Most Important Book
-David Baldacci on SOPHIE'S CHOICE
-Laura Pedersen: How Book Giving Ruined a Pot Roast
-Ad Hudler on Dr. Seuss
-Francoise Mouly: Holiday Reading
-Wade Rouse: The Year I Received the Gift From Erma
-Kristin Hannah: Holiday Traditions
-Joseph Finder: Dr. Seuss, Thriller Writer

-Karen Robards: Christmas Memory
-Clyde Ford: A Mythic Christmas Gift
-Adrienne Barbeau: Books for Christmas
-Susan Meissner on POEMS FOR LITTLE EARS
-Garth Stein on 90 MINUTES
-Brad Meltzer on the Best Present He's Ever Received

May we suggest you bookmark this page or set up an RSS feed so you can read these pieces every day?


Click here to read's Authors on the Holidays Blog.

Don't Miss Our Holiday Basket of Cheer Contest on! 
The holiday season is upon us! At it's time for us to share the spirit of the season with our Holiday Basket of Cheer Contest. As you begin your holiday shopping, we want to remind you that books make affordable, personal and wonderful gifts for EVERYONE on your list --- and are a nice way to treat yourself as well!

Our featured titles are:

Buffalo Gal by Laura Pedersen
Candy Cane Murder by Joanne Fluke, Laura Levine and Leslie Meier
Christmas at Sea Pines Cottage by Sally Smith O'Rourke
A Christmas Passage by David Saperstein and George Samerjan
Santa Clawed by Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown
Silver Bells by Fern Michaels, JoAnn Ross, Mary Burton and Judy Duarte
The Spy Who Came for Christmas by David Morrell

And for the final contest of our Holiday Basket of Cheer feature, we bring you our special End-of-the-Year Celebration. We've gathered together an outstanding collection of 13 books that were published this year --- thrillers, suspense novels, women's fiction and nonfiction titles we love --- as our prize. It's valued at $300, and we will be giving five away!

The selected titles are: Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Sanction by Eric Van Lustbader; The Commission by Philip Shenon; Deep Dish by Mary Kay Andrews; First Daughter by Eric Van Lustbader; Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah; The Gate House by Nelson DeMille; The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner; Guilty by Karen Robards; Hollywood Crows by Joseph Wambaugh; How Not to Look Old by Charla Krupp; A McKettick Christmas by Linda Lael Miller; The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey by Trenton Lee Stewart; and Off Season by Anne Rivers Siddons.


Click here to enter the latest Holiday Basket of Cheer contest on's What to Give/What to Get Gift Guide
Headed out to do some holiday shopping? Before you go, check out our What to Give/What to Get feature with ideas in 13 categories.

This year's featured categories include:

-Eat, Drink & Be Merry: Cookbooks, Entertaining Guides & Culinary Tales   
-Faces & Places: Biography, Memoir & History
-Great Choices for Booklovers: Fiction & Nonfiction Highlights
-Great Tools for Readers and Writers: Accessories for Booklovers
-Healthy, Wealthy & Wise: Advice & How-To       
-Holiday Spirit: Perfect Selections for Holiday Reading
-Inspirational: Christian Fiction & Nonfiction Highlights
-Mystery Madness & Thrilling Reads: Mysteries, Thrillers & Suspense
-Picture Perfect: Picture Books
-Splendid Series: Series Books for Kids
-Stocking Stuffers: Books Small Enough to Put in Stockings or Buy in Quantity
-Teens’ Choice: For Teens
-True Story: Nonfiction for Kids

Click here to see our What to Give/What to Get Gift Guide.


A Book is the Perfect Gift Because....

There's one gift that's perfect for everyone on your holiday list --- a book! Yes, everyone has people who are readers on their lists, which makes shopping for them easy. But beyond these kindred spirits, there's a book that can match just about any recipient's interests, even if reading is not their true passion. That is why we are going to be sharing 45 reasons why a book makes a perfect gift, counting down from now until Christmas Day, December 25th. Check back and see why we think this is the gift you want to give --- and, oh yes, receive!

This feature is running on,, and

Click here to see our Books as the Perfect Gifts Countdown.


This Month's Book Club Interviews

This month we are sharing two new interviews with book clubs on

Selene Miller is the chairperson for Everything and a Book Club Too in West Chicago, IL. In this interview, Selene describes how her book club selects titles and shares stories about some of the group’s memorable trips, events and discussions. She also explains why The Hours has been brought up at every meeting the past six years.

Becky Morgan is a member of Glamour Girls Lit Society in Huntington, WV, which is celebrating its one-year anniversary in December. In this interview, Becky discusses the inspiration that led this group of women to form a book club. She also talks about a memorable discussion she and her fellow members had with a local author and encourages others to seek out author chat opportunities.


Click here to see all our interviews with book clubs.


Book Groups, Librarians and Booksellers --- We Want to Hear from YOU!

Each month we feature interviews with book clubs from around the country on Interested in having your group spotlighted? Click here to read what to do.

We also like to feature interviews with librarians and booksellers from across the country in much the same way that we interview book groups each month. If you'd like to share your knowledge and opinions about book clubs with our readers, a link to the list of questions we'd like answered is available from the links below.

Please feel free to go beyond these questions and share with us anything about books clubs --- ones that meet in your library, your store, of which you're a member or ones that you've heard about --- that you think might interest our readers. When answering these questions, please keep in mind that our readers love to know what other groups are reading, so the more titles you include, the better!

-Librarians: Click here to see our interview instructions and questions for Librarians.

-Booksellers: Click here to see our interview instructions and questions for Booksellers.

New Guides Now Available
The following guides are now available on

Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips
Lost and Found by Carolyn Parkhurst
The Pre-Nup by Beth Kendrick
This One is Mine by Maria Semple
When Southern Girls Grow Old: Three Homecomings by Elizabeth Doak Sherman
White Bird Black Bird by Val Wake

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

Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

We have the following new guides for Christian book groups:

The Flower of Grass by James E. Robinson
Hazardous Duty: Squeaky Clean Mysteries, Book 1 by Christy Barritt
Suspicious Minds: Squeaky Clean Series, Book 2 by Christy Barritt

This Month's Poll: Books as Gifts
Are you giving books this holiday season?

Not sure

Would you like to receive books as gifts this holiday season?

Not sure

Click here to answer the poll.

Tip for December
If your group doesn't meet in December, but you'd still like to read and discuss a book, form a temporary two-person book club with a fellow member, friend, relative or co-worker.
Click here to see our past tips.


This Month's Contest Book: A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS by Khaled Hosseini

Win a copy of A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini 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 January 1, 2009. If you are receiving this newsletter in your mailbox, you already are signed up!

More About
A Thousand Splendid Suns:
Now available in paperback, A Thousand Splendid Suns is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan's last 30 years --- from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to post-Taliban rebuilding --- that puts the violence, fear, hope and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives --- the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness --- are inextricable from the history playing out around them.

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