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June 2009

ReadingGroupGuides.com Newsletter June 2009
 
Quick Links to Features on ReadingGroupGuides.com
 
 
What a Great Month for Book Clubs...Lots to Hear!

This is one of those months where so many great things are going on that I am not quite sure what to share first. And there is lots to hear...literally.

Many thanks to those of you who submitted ideas that you wanted me to share with publishers, booksellers and librarians during the recent BookExpo America (BEA) events in New York. Over the course of the three panels that I moderated about book clubs and trade paperbacks, I was able to communicate your feedback. A podcast of one of the panels where I was joined by four book club facilitators and members can be heard here.

Patti Callahan Henry stopped by The Book Report Network offices last month, and we taped a quick video interview with her (with my Flip camera). We hope to do more of these with authors who come by in the weeks and months to come. Patti's latest novel, Driftwood Summer, is now in stores, and last night we got word that it is on the New York Times bestseller list for June 21st, which was quite lovely to hear. If you're in a book group, this interview will give you some nice background to the story, which is about three sisters who reunite to save the family's beach-community bookstore. Patti shares anecdotes about writing Driftwood Summer, gathering research while she was on tour last year and some of the book clubs she has met with over the years.

And one more idea you want to hear. Mary Kay Andrews, who is being featured in Bookreporter.com's latest Women's Fiction Spotlight, is being interviewed on Blogtalk Radio on Tuesday, June 16th at 3PM. Her latest, The Fixer Upper, will be in stores on June 23rd. They are giving away 25 books to readers who write into the show or email with a question for Mary Kay. If joining in by phone, listeners need to go to the Blogtalk radio site where they will see the call-in number displayed. Simply call that number to ask a question. When you are on the air, remember to turn down the volume on your computer. If you prefer to email your question, you need to type it in the "Chat" section that will appear on the lower left-hand side of the screen. Enjoy!

The Art of Racing in the Rain, which is a book I just loved last year and was the inspiration for the Bookreporter.com Bets On feature, is now out in paperback. If you missed it last year, take a look at it now here. The winners for the second part of the special contest we ran for this book will be announced later in the month.

The title that I just selected for Bookreporter.com Bets On is Crazy for the Storm by Norman Ollestad. This title is also the latest pick in Starbucks's book program. It’s the story of Norm’s relationship with his dad, who cultivated a daredevil survival streak in him that he credits with saving his life when he was in a charter plane crash on a mountain at age 11 that killed his dad, his dad’s girlfriend and the pilot. As he walked down the snowy icy mountain alone, he says he felt confident he would be okay and he never gave up. Parents often wonder what their children learn from them --- Norman’s takeaway from his 11 years with his dad infused him with a spirit of "never give up" that has carried him through his life. We have been featuring this book on Bookreporter.com, and you can read more about it here. There also was a "Nightline" piece about this book, which you can see here.

Speaking of fathers, on Bookreporter.com our Father’s Day Contest closes on June 15th. We highlight six titles that are part of the prize along with some "manly gifts" that I had fun shopping for. Our eight Summer Beach Bag of Books Contests will get a terrific list of titles for summer on your radar --- and we also give you the opportunity to win some great prizes.

I spent last Saturday reading Perfection by Julie Metz and found myself swept up in this very personal story about what she discovered about her husband after his death. Your group can win one of 10 copies of the book this month. Read on for details and more about this gripping memoir, and you will see why I kept turning pages as I was swinging in the hammock.

Last month we held a registered book club contest celebrating the paperback release of Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos. For those of you interested in hearing the author speak more about the book, she will be on Book Club Girl's on Air radio show. You can join the conversation here on June 23rd at 7PM.

I know that many of you have told us that instead of checking in with our blog daily, you prefer to read all the posts at one time. Thus, here's your reminder to click on over to the blog and do just that. There are so many standout pieces from authors this month, including the following:

-Lisa See
on the three book groups that had an impact during the writing process of her latest novel, Shanghai Girls, which debuts on the New York Times list at number four!

-Mahbod Seraji offers insight into his novel, Rooftops of Tehran, and shares a thought-provoking, true-life story that had a profound effect on him.

-Sally Koslow offers some talking points and topics about her latest novel, The Late, Lamented Molly Marx.

-Marie Brenner talks about how the topic of sibling relationships has struck a chord with the people she has met while promoting Apples and Oranges.

-Julie Buxbaum, author of The Opposite of Love, talks about "cheating" on her book club. If you belong to more than one book club, you will want to see what she has to say.

And that is just a few of this months' outstanding posts. Read more here now.

This month's poll asks you to tell us more about your bookstore browsing habits, as we are curious about what you are doing these days.

This month's contest book is The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. To be a group to win 20 free copies of this book, all you have to do is sign up for the ReadingGroupGuides.com newsletter by July 1, 2009. If you are receiving this newsletter in your mailbox, you already are signed up!

Lots of good reading...lots of great listening. Here's to a terrific rest of June. I will be on the road for business for most of the month of July, thus I am coveting my June weekends for reading and relaxing. I added two new bookcases, and they already are filled. Just looking at those shelves makes me happy! I am betting many of YOU feel the same way.

Carol Fitzgerald (Carol@bookreporter.com)
 

Click here to read the ReadingGroupGuides.com Blog.

 
Special Contest: PERFECTION: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal, by Julie Metz

We are celebrating the release of Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal by Julie Metz with a special contest. Ten readers will have the opportunity to each win one finished copy of Perfection, which is now in stores, for their group. Enter between now and Monday, June 29th by filling out the form found here.

More About Perfection:
A breathtakingly honest, gloriously written memoir about the complexities of forgiveness --- the story of a young widow who discovers her husband’s secret life only after his sudden death.

Julie Metz’s life changes forever on one ordinary January afternoon when her husband, Henry, collapses on the kitchen floor and dies in her arms. Suddenly, this mother of a six-year-old is the young widow in a bucolic small town. And this is only the beginning. Seven months after Henry’s death, just when Julie thinks she is emerging from the worst of it, comes the rest of it: she discovers that what had appeared to be the reality of her marriage was but a half truth. Henry had hidden another life from her. Perfection is the story of Metz’s journey through chaos and transformation, as she creates a different life for herself and for her young daughter. It is the story of coming to terms with painful truths, of rebuilding both a life and an identity after betrayal and widowhood. It is a story of rebirth and happiness --- if not perfection.

-Click
here for the reading group guide.

 

Click here to read all the contest details.

 
THE ANGEL'S GAME by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
In the turbulent and surreal Barcelona of the 1920s, David Martin, a young novelist obsessed with a forbidden love, receives an offer from an enigmatic publisher to write a book like no other before --- a book for which "people will live and die." In return, he is promised a fortune and, perhaps, much more.

Soon David begins to see frightening parallels between the book he's been commissioned to write and an old religious manuscript retrieved from the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. Once again, Zafón takes us into a dark, gothic universe first seen in The Shadow of the Wind and creates a breathtaking adventure of intrigue, romance and tragedy.

 
Click here to read the guide for The Angel's Game.

 
THE GIRLS FROM AMES: A Story of Women & a Forty-Year Friendship, by Jeffrey Zaslow
The New York Times bestseller hailed as “a testament to how women bond.” (NPR’s “On Point”)

Meet the Girls from Ames --- the true story of a group of ordinary women who formed an extraordinary friendship --- and discover a moving portrait of a generation.

The Wall Street Journal called it, “A moving example of friendship at its best --- forgiving, accepting, offering enduring respite and support.”

This summer you’ll want to share it with the friends in your life.

 
Click here to read the guide for The Girls from Ames.

 
THE ACTOR AND THE HOUSEWIFE by Shannon Hale
Seven months pregnant and far from home, Becky Jack walks into the office of a Hollywood producer to sell her first screenplay and, much to her shock, meets silver screen heartthrob (and the object of her celebrity affection) Felix Callahan. They spend an awkward and unexpected day together, and, though his cursing and drinking contradict her strict Mormon values, Felix and Becky somehow form an unshakable friendship.

Through the next decade, Felix and Becky experience tests of their bond they could never have anticipated.

 
Click here to read the guide for The Actor and the Housewife.

 
THE LATE, LAMENTED MOLLY MARX by Sally Koslow
Exploring the bonds of fidelity, family and friendship, and narrated by a memorable and endearing character, The Late, Lamented Molly Marx is a hilarious, deeply moving and thought-provoking novel that is part mystery, part love story and all heart.

"Equal parts self-deprecating, wry and sassy, Molly is honest about her faults and equally forgiving of the others’ as she reviews her life with a hearty dose of honesty and humor... The narrative’s heavy dose of hilarity and heartbreak will win readers over." --
Publishers Weekly

-Click here to read Sally Koslow's blog post, "Discussing Molly Marx...and More."
-
Click here to visit Bookreporter.com's Beach Bag feature for The Late, Lamented Molly Marx.
 
Click here to read the guide for The Late, Lamented Molly Marx.

 
THE GLASSBLOWER OF MURANO by Marina Fiorato
The international bestseller is now available in the U.S.!

Leonora Manin leaves her life in London to embark on a grand exploration of life and love as a glassblower in the city of her ancestors, Venice. But when her fate becomes inextricably linked with that of her ancestor and treacherous secrets of his life come to light, Leonora learns that the past isn't as clear as blown glass.

 
Click here to read the guide for The Glassblower of Murano.

 
CENSORING AN IRANIAN LOVE STORY by Shahriar Mandanipour

A dazzlingly inventive novel about what it’s like to live, love and be an artist in today’s Iran. A writer named Shahriar --- the author’s fictional alter ego --- sets out to write a bewitching love story, yet writing freely of his protagonists’ forbidden encounters would put him in as much peril as his lovers. Thus we read not just the scenes Shahriar has written, but also the sentences and words he’s crossed out or merely imagined, knowing they can never be published.
 

Click here to read the guide for Censoring an Iranian Love Story.

 
Now Available in Paperback: THE LIKENESS by Tana French
With her richly nuanced characters and deep psychological insight, Tana French explores themes of self-invention, deception and the ways truth can emerge from even the most convincing disguises. Set against a backdrop of tightly knit class and cultural tensions, The Likeness goes beyond the conventions of the whodunit to comment on the inequities and misguided values of modern society.

-Click here to read a review of The Likeness on Bookreporter.com.
-Read more about Tana French here.

 
Click here to read the guide for The Likeness.

 
THE UNIT written by Ninni Holmqvist, translated by Marlaine Delargy
One day in early spring, Dorrit Weger is checked into the Second Reserve Bank Unit for biological material. Here, women over the age of 50 and men over 60 --- single, childless, and without jobs in progressive industries --- are expected to contribute themselves for the good of society. Despite the ruthless nature of this practice, Dorrit finds her conditions pleasant and comfortable. But when she meets a man and falls in love, the extraordinary becomes a reality and Dorrit is faced with compliance or escape.

-Click here to visit Bookreporter.com's Beach Bag feature for The Unit.

 
Click here to read the guide for The Unit.

 
Now Available in Paperback: ONE IN A MILLION by Kimberla Lawson Roby
Kennedi and Blake Mason have a good marriage. At least, Kennedi thinks they do --- until one fateful day. It starts out so well. Kennedi gets what she considers the best news ever and can’t wait to tell her husband because it’s something he’s always dreamed about and wanted.

But when Blake arrives home that evening, he has some news of his own, which shocks Kennedi into silence.

Sometimes what we think we have and what we think we want aren’t real at all.

 
Click here to read the guide for One in a Million.

 
THE COMPASS by Tammy Kling and John Spencer Ellis
The Compass is a life-transforming novel that will guide you on a journey of self-discovery. New York Times bestselling author Brian Tracy raves: “The Compass will take you from where you are now to that place you've been destined to reach. It will help you achieve your goals and dreams."
 
Click here to read the guide for The Compass.

 
A RELIABLE WIFE by Robert Goolrick
Rural Wisconsin, 1909. In the bitter cold, Ralph Truitt, a successful businessman, stands alone on a train platform waiting for the woman who answered his newspaper advertisement for "a reliable wife." But when Catherine Land steps off the train from Chicago, she's not the "simple, honest woman" that Ralph is expecting. Isolated on a remote estate and imprisoned by relentless snow, the story of Ralph and Catherine unfolds in unimaginable ways.

-Click here to read Robert Goolrick's blog post about writing A Reliable Wife.

 
Click here to read the guide for A Reliable Wife.

 
Registered Book Club Promotions
For June we have three very special opportunities for Registered Book Groups. Our featured titles this month are The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson, Apples and Oranges by Marie Brenner and A Thread of Truth by Marie Bostwick. Groups who have registered with us by Monday, June 15th have the chance to win author chats and/or free books. If your group is not registered, click here to register.

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson --- Author Chat and Book Giveaway: 10 groups will have the opportunity to chat with Joshilyn Jackson and receive up to 12 copies of the book.

More About The Girl Who Stopped Swimming:
The title is a great choice for reading groups for two reasons: one is the author herself, a bestselling novelist with two previous books (back-to-back #1 Book Sense picks --- unprecedented) who is known in her writing for the accurate, honest and funny depictions of family, especially among women, and relationships between the sexes. Second, the novel itself, which touches on the good, bad and ugly of sibling relationships (love, rivalry, understanding, loyalty) as well as modern American marriage and family.

The author’s accurate depiction of life in a gated community versus that of the dusty small Southern towns that surround it also make for good discussion about urban/suburban/exurban life.

Apples and Oranges: My Brother and Me, Lost and Found by Marie Brenner --- Author Chat and Book Giveaway: Five groups will have the opportunity to chat with Marie Brenner and receive up to 10 copies of the book.

More About Apples and Oranges:
Rivals since their earliest youth, Marie Brenner and her brother, Carl, rarely found common ground. Like many brothers and sisters, they maintained a lifelong connection that was both aggravating and essential, navigating around the fact that they had settled in distinctly different corners of America. Then, after they had spent decades in opposition, a crisis forced them to unite. Charting their course as they waded through years of simmering angst, Apples and Oranges, which is now available in paperback, is ultimately the story of an uncanny reconciliation and a bittersweet confrontation between the uncertain future and the ghosts of the past.

With 52 percent of brothers and sisters having challenged relationships, this is a wonderful story that provokes conversation about our own sibling relationships.

A Thread of Truth by Marie Bostwick --- Author Chat and Book Giveaway: Two groups will have the opportunity to chat with Marie Bostwick and receive up to 10 copies of the book.

More About A Thread of Truth:
Having fled an abusive marriage with little more than her kids and the clothes on her back, Ivy figures she has nowhere to go but up. An appearance in an on-air promo for part-time quilt shop job alerts her ex-husband to her whereabouts. Now she’s forced to face her deepest fears as a woman and a mother. This time, she’s got a sisterhood behind her: companions as complex, strong and lasting as the quilts they stitch.

Marie Bostwick’s new novel A Thread of Truth weaves together new beginnings, old friends and the rich, varied tapestry of lives fully lived.

 
Click here to register your group.

 
New Guides Now Available

The following guides are now available on ReadingGroupGuides.com:

The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale: A very different kind of fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Shannon Hale.
The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón: From master storyteller Carlos Ruiz Zafón comes The Angel’s Game --- a dazzling new page-turner about the perilous nature of obsession, in literature and in love.
Beginner's Greek by James Collins: Beginner's Greek is a romantic comedy of the highest order, with characters who are perfectly, charmingly real as they swerve and stumble from fairy tale to social satire and back again.
Censoring an Iranian Love Story written by Shahriar Mandanipour, translated by Sara Khalili: From one of Iran’s most acclaimed writers, a dazzlingly inventive novel about what it’s like to live, love and be an artist in today’s Iran.
The Compass by Tammy Kling and John Spencer Ellis: The Compass is a life-transforming novel that will take you from where you are to where you want to be.
An Elegy for Easterly by Petina Gappah: Set in the chaos and confusion of everyday life in Zimbabwe, Petina Gappah’s debut collection, An Elegy for Easterly, is full of verve, wit and compassion.
The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson: “A vivid, smartly calibrated achievement...a ghost story, family psychodrama, and murder mystery all in one.” -- Entertainment Weekly
The Glassblower of Murano by Marina Fiorato: In this international bestseller, a woman leaves her life in London to embark on a grand exploration of life and love as a glassblower in the city of her ancestors: Venice.
The Late, Lamented Molly Marx by Sally Koslow: Exploring the bonds of fidelity, family and friendship, The Late, Lamented Molly Marx is a hilarious, deeply moving and thought-provoking novel that is part mystery, part love story and all heart.
The Likeness by Tana French: With her richly nuanced characters and deep psychological insight, Tana French explores themes of self-invention, deception and the ways truth can emerge from even the most convincing disguises.
Love Finds You in Treasure Island, Florida by Debby Mayne: Can Amanda, whose mother and sister refuse to grow up, and Jerry, primary caretaker of aging parents, find the treasure of unconditional love?
Made in the U.S.A. by Billie Letts: The bestselling author of Where the Heart Is returns with a heartrending tale of two children in search of a place to call home.
The Nine Lessons: A Novel of Love, Fatherhood, and Second Chances by Kevin Milne: August Witte is firmly against having children. But after seven years of marriage, his wife is delighted when she realizes she is unexpectedly pregnant.
Oxygen by Carol Cassella: Oxygen is a riveting new novel by a real-life anesthesiologist, an intimate story of relationships and family that collides with a high-stakes medical drama.
Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal by Julie Metz: Perfection is the story of coming to terms with painful truths, of rebuilding both a life and an identity after betrayal and widowhood.
The Road Home by Rose Tremain: In the wake of factory closings and his beloved wife's death, Lev makes his way from Eastern Europe to London, seeking work to support his mother and his little daughter.
A Thread of Truth by Marie Bostwick: Marie Bostwick’s new novel A Thread of Truth weaves together new beginnings, old friends, and the rich, varied tapestry of lives fully lived. It’s the perfect pick for books clubs as diverse and yet connected as sewing circles.
The Unit written by Ninni Holmqvist, translated by Marlaine Delargy: When Dorrit Weger turns 50, she is checked into the Unit. She is single, childless, and considered “dispensable” to society. But what happens when Dorrit falls in love inside the Unit? What will she do to get out?
What We Remember by Michael Thomas Ford: Award-winning author Michael Thomas Ford's ambitious new novel will appeal to his core readership, but also fans of Julia Glass, Chris Bohjalian and Jodi Picoult.


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


Apples and Oranges: My Brother and Me, Lost and Found by Marie Brenner
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
Cost by Roxana Robinson
Domestic Affairs by Eileen Goudge
Friday Nights by Joanna Trollope
One in a Million by Kimberla Lawson Roby
The Other by David Guterson
Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross


We have the following new guides for Christian book groups:


Come Sunday by Isla Morley: Come Sunday, set in the hills of Hawaii and the veldt of South Africa, is that joyous, special thing: a saga that captivates from the very first page, breaking our hearts while making our spirits soar.
Forsaken by James David Jordan: What would it take for you to renounce your faith in Christ? Author James David Jordan confronts readers with this challenging question in his new book, Forsaken.
Love Finds You in Treasure Island, Florida by Debby Mayne: Can Amanda, whose mother and sister refuse to grow up, and Jerry, primary caretaker of aging parents, find the treasure of unconditional love?
Talking to the Dead by Bonnie Grove: In this tender, quirky novel about embracing life, Grove patiently walks readers through the depths and mysteries of extreme sorrow after the death of a loved one.
Things Left Unspoken by Eva Marie Everson: Every family --- and every house --- has its secrets. Jo-Lynn Hunter isn't sure she wants to know the truth, but sometimes the truth has a way of making itself known.

 


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 TheBookReportNetwork.com:


Bookreporter.com, GraphicNovelReporter.com, FaithfulReader.com, Teenreads.com, Kidsreads.com, AuthorsOnTheWeb.com and AuthorYellowPages.com.

Carol Fitzgerald (Carol@bookreporter.com)

The Book Report Network
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