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March 2009 Newsletter March 2009
Your Opinions Win You a Book!

Happy March --- the month that roared in like a lion with snow and wind. I am ticking off the days until spring and hoping that it arrives right on time. I would like another color besides gray looking in at me from my window, and the trees can use some color, too. I like my world colorful!

The BIG news this month is that we are asking you all to participate in our 2009 Reader Survey. And there is a nice reward for completing it. Through the generosity of our publishing colleagues, each of the first 2,500 survey respondents will receive a book. The 28 titles that have been selected each are worthy of a terrific book group discussion, besides providing some wonderful reading enjoyment. Titles will be selected at random. The survey is open until we have awarded all the prizes or April 30th, whichever comes first. It should take you about 12-15 minutes to complete it.

One quick note: Given customs and mailing restrictions, the prize offerings are only available to residents of the United States and Canada. To our international readers, we welcome your participation and regret we cannot send prizes overseas.

The last time we did a survey was in 2001, and we know that a lot has changed since then. You can read more about this later in our newsletter, and may we ask that you share it with other friends who are in book groups, your local librarian and your local bookseller? We are trying to gather responses from as many different groups and people as possible. We know our goal of 2,500 respondents is ambitious, but we also know we have readers who can help us reach it. And hey, I LOVE to give books away!

On the site this month our featured titles will make you think, laugh and discuss. Browse through them for ideas on what your group might enjoy --- and also use this as a way to add to your own personal reading list. We know that if you enjoy a book, it just might end up on your book group’s list at a future date. May we also suggest that you set aside a portion of your book group meeting time to talk about what you are now reading? Any of you can make a book a bestseller!

We invite you to take part in this month’s poll, which touches on this experience and asks you how many books you have recommended to people in the past year by saying, “You HAVE to read this book.” As someone who does this on a daily basis, I am looking forward to seeing your responses.

We love to hear when a book suddenly is being talked about by a number of groups so often that the title feels like it has a drumbeat behind it. This month that’s been happening with The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Shannon McKenna Schmidt, our Contributing Editor, told me that “she considered it a privilege to have read this book,” which is a lovely way to have a book described. The book was originally published as a young adult title, but the crossover to the adult world was organic as parents started reading it and the word spread. I know I read it after my son had finished it --- and shortly afterwards we toured the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC and the story took on even more meaning.

Speaking of
The Book Thief, Random House Children's Books is sponsoring a book club contest in which one group will win a Skype call with Markus Zusak. I have heard Markus speak on more than one occasion. He’s Australian, and not in the States much, so a chance to chat with him like this would be quite a treat. Click here to read all the contest details.

We hope that you enjoy reading the Blog as much as we do. Today’s post is about a book that I am just CRAZY about, A Reliable Wife, which will be published on April 7th. Read what three librarians --- Robin Beerbower, Sonja Somerville and Elizabeth Hughes --- have to say about this book here! Their comments are dead on and they join me with their rave.

As you may know, now has a fan page on Facebook. Since January, we have been joined by almost 600 fans. Here we feature our daily blogs and will put out questions for discussion. We’d love you to share pictures of your groups as well as comments on the books that we suggest. We look forward to seeing you as fans.

Our contest book this month is Silent on the Moor by Deanna Raybourn. For your group to win 20 free copies of this book, all you have to do is sign up for the newsletter by April 1, 2009. If you are receiving this newsletter in your mailbox, you already are signed up! You can find more information about this contest here. Click here to read the guide for Silent on the Moor.

We have two new interviews this month, including one with the “Mandeville Hot Mamas” book club in Mandeville, LA. We also are sharing an interview with Lora A. Glass, a librarian at the Niceville Public Library in Niceville, FL. Interested in having us feature an interview with your book club, library or bookstore? Click on the appropriate link in the previous sentence to find out how.

...lots of read on...and don’t forget to answer the survey so you can get a bookish prize. Thanks for reading….

Carol Fitzgerald ([email protected])'s 2009 Book Group Survey -- Give Us Your Input and Receive a Complementary Book! is conducting a survey of book groups. Our goal is to identify trends and topics that are of interest to book groups that we can share with publishers and authors, so they can provide the information and resources to enhance your meetings and discussions. We have not done a survey since 2001, and we know that a lot has changed in the last eight years! Thus, we would love to hear from you.

We estimate it will take 12-15 minutes to complete the survey. As your time is valuable to us, as a token of our appreciation for completing the survey, EACH survey participant will receive ONE of 28 books that appear at the bottom of this page.

We thank our publishing colleagues who graciously provided these incentives for you to share your thoughts with us. Please note that each of these titles would be worthy of a book club discussion! Prize titles will be selected at random and sent to you from the participating publisher. Your name will not be used for any other mailing. If you know people in other book clubs, may we suggest that you forward this link to them? The more voices that are heard for this, the more we will be able to have your comments shared with publishers and authors.

The survey will close on April 30th, or as soon as we have 2,500 prizes awarded, so click here to answer the survey NOW.

One quick note: Given customs and mailing restrictions, the prize offerings are only available to residents of the United States and Canada. To our international readers, we welcome your participation and regret we cannot send prizes overseas.

-Click here for more information about the survey and the 28 prize books.

Click here to take part in the 2009 Book Group Survey.

Now Available in Paperback: AMERICAN WIFE by Curtis Sittenfeld
"[Sittenfeld] succeeds in creating a memorable and sympathetic heroine... Nimble... Wickedly hilarious."
-- Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

A kind, bookish only child born in the 1940s, Alice Lindgren has no idea that she will one day end up in the White House, married to the president. In her small Wisconsin hometown, she learns the virtues of politeness, but a tragic accident when she is 17 shatters her identity and changes the trajectory of her life. More than a decade later, when the charismatic son of a powerful Republican family sweeps her off her feet, she is surprised to find herself admitted into a world of privilege.

Click here to read the guide for American Wife.

Now Available in Paperback: DEEP DISH by Mary Kay Andrews
Local cooking show hosts Gina Foxton and Tate Moody face off in a reality show competition. The prize is the starring role in his or her own series on the Cooking Channel. As much as Gina and Tate yearn to win, they reluctantly find themselves distracted by their attraction to each other, in this hilarious and delightful romp from bestselling author Mary Kay Andrews.
Click here to read the guide for Deep Dish.

HEART AND SOUL by Maeve Binchy
With the insight, humor and compassion we have come to expect from her, Maeve Binchy tells a story of family, friends, patients and staff who are part of a heart clinic in a community caught between the old and the new Ireland. In this clinic, lives are saved, courage is rewarded, and humor and optimism triumph over greed and self-pity. Heart and Soul is Maeve Binchy at her storytelling best.
Click here to read the guide for Heart and Soul.

Now Available in Paperback: MUDBOUND by Hillary Jordan
“This is storytelling at the height of its powers. Hillary Jordan writes with the force of a Delta storm.”
-- Barbara Kingsolver

March 17th marks the official publication date of the paperback release of Hillary Jordan's award-winning novel Mudbound. Hailed by The Washington Post as a compelling family tragedy, a confluence of romantic attraction and racial hatred that falls like an avalanche,” this powerful novel will make for engaging book club discussions. For fans of timeless classics like To Kill a Mockingbird and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.

-Click here to read the guide for Mudbound.

Click here to read more about Mudbound at

Now Available in Paperback: THE SUSPICIONS OF MR. WHICHER by Kate Summerscale
With the brisk pace of an old-fashioned murder mystery, The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher re-creates the fascinating case that dominated the pages of newspapers and detective novels alike, inspiring some of the best mystery writers of the Victorian era and beyond.

“If you are a mystery lover, or if you have ever wondered how the modern love of the genre began, you'll enjoy Summerscale’s tracing of the early days of the profession and the fascination it exerted...a fascinating look at Victorian life, death and detection.”
-- Associated Press

Click here to read the guide for The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher.

Now Available in Paperback: THE FORGERY OF VENUS by Michael Gruber
An artist born outside his time, Chaz Wilmot can paint like Leonardo, Goya, Gainsborough --- and he refuses to shape his talent to fit the fashion of the day. His unique abilities attract the attention of Werner Krebs, an art dealer with a dark past and shadier present, and soon Wilmot is working with a fervor he hasn't felt in years. But his creative burst is accompanied by strange interludes --- memories that are not memories... and he begins to wonder if he is really the person he believes he is.
Click here to read the guide for The Forgery of Venus.

A powerful novel about the pain of grief that is as unexpectedly funny as it is wise. Discover the award-winning novel with your book club.

“Foxlee captures the small ways that humans reveal themselves, the mysterious intensity of female adolescence, and the surreal quiet of a grieving house, which slowly and with astonishing resilience fills again with sound and music.”

-- Starred Review, Booklist

Click here to read the guide for The Anatomy of Wings.

Now Available in Paperback: TERRA INCOGNITA by Ruth Downie
Following her widely acclaimed New York Times bestselling debut, Ruth Downie sends beleaguered army doctor Gaius Petrius Ruso to the uncivilized borders of the Roman Empire, where the Roman-controlled Britannia meets the independent tribes of the north. Ruso, unwillingly pulled into the murder investigation, is appalled to find that his slave Tilla is spending time with the prime suspect. Soon both Ruso’s and Tilla’s lives are in jeopardy, as is the future of their burgeoning romance.

“Downie’s attention to day-in-the-life period details, judiciously doled-out twists, and dry British humor make Incognita one hell of a toga party.”
-- Entertainment Weekly

Click here to read the guide for Terra Incognita.

Set in a Paris darkened by World War II, Sara Houghteling’s sweeping and sensuous debut novel tells the story of a son’s quest to recover his family’s lost masterpieces, looted by the Nazis during the occupation. Written with luminous historical detail, and as haunting as the paintings that are reprinted on its pages, Houghteling’s novel conjures a mesmerizing world of art and artists, the melancholy of an end of an era, and a timeless story of fathers and sons.
Click here to read the guide for Pictures at an Exhibition.

HATS & EYEGLASSES: A Memoir, by Martha Frankel
Martha Frankel grew up in a warm, loving family of diehard gamblers, where her father’s poker games and her mother’s mah-jongg blended happily with big pots of delicious food and endless gossip. In this “fast-paced and amazingly funny” (The Times - Picayune) memoir, Frankel traces her love affair with poker, an obsession that didn’t hit until her mid-40s. By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Hats & Eyeglasses is a tale of passion, addiction --- and those times in life when we almost lose our shirt.
Click here to read the guide for Hats & Eyeglasses.

Now Available in Paperback: CROSSING THE HUDSON by Peter Stephan Jungk
While driving from the airport with his widowed mother to his vacation house in New York, Gustav Rubin --- distracted by his kvetching mother --- makes a wrong turn and ends up on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River, and mother and son get caught in a traffic jam of epic proportions on the Tappan Zee Bridge, leading to the crisis that will finally force Gustav, at 45, to grow up.
Click here to read the guide for Crossing the Hudson.

Registered Book Club Offers
For March we have two very special opportunities for Registered Book Groups. Our featured titles this month are Murder at the Academy Awards®: A Red Carpet Murder Mystery by Joan Rivers with Jerrilyn Farmer and The Anatomy of Wings by Karen Foxlee. Groups who have registered with us by Monday, March 16th have the chance to win author chats and/or free books. If your group is not registered, click here to register.

Murder at the Academy Awards®: A Red Carpet Murder Mystery by Joan Rivers with Jerrilyn Farmer --- Author Chat and Book Giveaway: Four groups will have the opportunity to chat with Joan Rivers and receive up to 12 copies of the book. Five other groups will also have the opportunity to receive up to 12 copies of the book.

More About Murder at the Academy Awards®: A Red Carpet Murder Mystery:
The Academy Awards®. It's Hollywood's biggest night, and there's no star better equipped than the tart-tongued Max Taylor to hold court on the glamorous Red Carpet. Tonight, she has landed a real coup --- an exclusive interview with Halsey Hamilton, a fabulous, young, paparazzi-trailed Oscar nominee. But not even Max, who's seen her share of celebrity train wrecks, is prepared for Halsey to drop dead at the hem of her stunning Michael Kors gown. To Hollywood, the starlet's demise was tragic but inevitable. To Max, it looks more like a perfectly calculated crime.

The Anatomy of Wings by Karen Foxlee --- Book Giveaway: Three groups will have the opportunity to receive 10-12 copies of the book.

More About The Anatomy of Wings:
Ten-year-old Jennifer Day lives in a small mining town full of secrets. Trying to make sense of the sudden death of her teenage sister, Beth, she looks to the adult world around her for answers. As she recounts the final months of Beth’s life, Jennifer sifts through the lies and the truth, but what she finds are mysteries, miracles and more questions.

A powerful novel about the pain of grief that is as unexpectedly funny as it is wise. Discover the award-winning novel with your book club.

“Foxlee captures the small ways that humans reveal themselves, the mysterious intensity of female adolescence, and the surreal quiet of a grieving house, which slowly and with astonishing resilience fills again with sound and music.” --Starred Review, Booklist

Click here to register your group.

New Guides Now Available
The following guides are now available on

The Anatomy of Wings by Karen Foxlee
The Big Love by Sarah Dunn
Brida by Paulo Coelho
The Cradle by Patrick Somerville
Crossing the Hudson by Peter Stephan Jungk
Deep Dish by Mary Kay Andrews
The Forgery of Venus by Michael Gruber
A Gift from Brittany: A Memoir of Love and Loss in the French Countryside by Marjorie Price
The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano
The Guru Next Door: A Teacher's Legacy by Wendy Dolber
Hats & Eyeglasses: A Memoir by Martha Frankel
Heart and Soul by Maeve Binchy
Hungry Woman in Paris by Josefina López
The Italian Lover by Robert Hellenga
The King's Daughter by Barbara Kyle
Life Sentences by Laura Lippman
Men, Money, & Gold Diggers by Je'Caryous Johnson
Murder at the Academy Awards®: A Red Carpet Murder Mystery by Joan Rivers with Jerrilyn Farmer
Pictures at an Exhibition by Sara Houghteling
Red, White and Blue: America Series, Book 2 by Laura Hayden
Silent on the Moor by Deanna Raybourn
The Sound of Hope: A True Story of an Adoptee's Quest for her Origins by Anne Bauer
The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective by Kate Summerscale
Sway by Zachary Lazar
Terra Incognita: A Novel of the Roman Empire by Ruth Downie
Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani

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

Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana by Anne Rice
The Expeditions by Karl Iagnemma
Resistance by Owen Sheers
The Ten-Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer

We have the following new guides for Christian book groups:

Breach of Trust: Call of Duty Series, Book 1 by DiAnn Mills
The Desires of Her Heart: Texas: Star of Destiny, Book 1 by Lyn Cote
Michal: The Wives of King David, Book 1 by Jill Eileen Smith
She's in a Better Place: The Fairlawn Series, Book 3 by Angela Hunt
Wind of the Spirit: The American Patriot Series, Book 3 by J. M. Hochstetler


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
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