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March 2010

ReadingGroupGuides.com Newsletter March 2010
 
Quick Links to Features on ReadingGroupGuides.com
 
 

Spring is in the Air...I Can Feel It....

Spring is in the air, and that is a VERY good thing. It's amazing how some warm temperatures can really brighten your spirits.

I was lucky enough to catch two excellent events featuring three wonderful authors this week; that, coupled with the brilliant weather, has given me a real spring in my step. Monday night I attended Sarah Blake's reading and Q&A about The Postmistress; the original program was snowed out, but thankfully rescheduled for a date I was in town. I normally do not enjoy it when authors read, preferring to hear them talk, but Sarah's reading dropped me right into the mood and the story. The Postmistress was one of my Bets On picks to start the year, and it was such a thrill to see it debut on the New York Times and IndieBound lists. You can see our full Bookreporter.com feature for the book here.

One question during the evening was right out of the mouths of babes when a very young attendee in the audience asked, "How did World War II start?" When we think that between now and then there have been wars in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, it made me realize that 70 years ago was very, very long ago to this boy, like me thinking about life in the 1890s when I was in school in the '60s. It shows how we all come to literary work with different perspectives. Something to ponder if the folks in your group are of many different ages.

The following night I caught two thriller writers --- Kate White and Linda Fairstein --- in a very special evening where they shared equal billing. Both of them had books release during the first weeks of March with Kate White's Hush and Linda Fairstein's Hell Gate coming out just a week apart. These two are great friends and have such a genuine chemistry and appreciation of each other's work and the genre of mystery/thriller books that it was a stellar evening. A few of us from the office arrived on time, and were lucky enough to squeeze into the standing room only crowd.

One more event I "attended" --- and you can, too --- was Katie Couric's recent hour-long interview with Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help. You can watch the interview here and learn so much about Kathryn, the book and her writing process. Her success is well-earned and much deserved! In more news on The Help, DreamWorks acquired the film rights and it's to be adapted for the screen by one of Kathryn's childhood friends. Naturally, we're all casting this in our heads, but People magazine offered their choices for the starring roles here.

One event down the road I'm really looking forward to is Greg Mortenson's visit to our regional high school on May 19th. This is so exciting given the success of Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools, which have done so much to bring attention to his organization's efforts in Asia. The kids have been collecting the usual "Pennies for Peace," and recently there was a discussion of both his books at the local library. A local restaurant, Silk Road, donated all the refreshments, and it was so nice to see the community pulling behind this. I confess this was not my doing, but rather one of the teachers and a board member for the high school.

That discussion and the Greg Mortenson event got me thinking about the community read initiatives that have become increasingly popular the past few years. When one community, regardless of its size, all focuses on one title, the reactions and discussions are just amazing. We'd love to shed some light on community read programs and help those interested get some insight into organizing and conducting one, too. So we ask of you: Have you ever participated in a community read program? If so, what book did you read? We'd love your feedback on this. Also, what book do you think would make a great community read? Please share your answers with our Contributing Editor, Dana Barrett, at dana@bookreporter.com.

This month we're featuring a very special contest for one of my favorite authors and people, Lisa See. To celebrate the recent paperback release of Shanghai Girls, we're offering 10 readers the chance to win a copy plus Lisa's two previous bestsellers, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Peony in Love. You can enter the contest here. It's great to see her titles really find a home with book clubs, and I've also received a number of nice emails from readers, friends and colleagues who have met Lisa on tour. She is touring extensively throughout the spring, and you can see her schedule here. I look forward to catching up with her towards the end of the tour at the Los Angeles Times Book Festival in late April.

Beyond this, the other books we are sharing are equally as impressive --- and be sure to check out the links to additional feature material on Her Mother's Hope and The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson on Bookreporter.com, which will give you more background on these stellar titles. Our contest book, Love in Mid Air, is a favorite of mine and definitely will prompt a conversation!

We're also featuring six exclusive contests for our registered readers to win author chats and books. All the details are below, and if your book group isn't yet registered in our database, you can do so here and become eligible for all our exclusive contests. We need you to sign up by Tuesday, March 16th to be eligible. I love the way through our author and publishing friends we are able to offer you the chance to speak to such a diverse group of writer talents.

Next week I am headed to Seattle and Portland on a 10-day tour of authors, our reviewers, bookstores and library events. For the latter I will be attending the Public Library Association Convention in Portland. I spent one day in Seattle back in 1997, thus I am really looking forward to this trip to get to know the Pacific Northwest better.

I have friends there who have been asking me to get out there for years, thus I am so happy to be pulling together this adventure. As always, I am cramming a lot into a short amount of time. I will carry too much luggage, and I am sure there will be stops in yarn shops along the way for a few souvenirs. We leave for the Outer Banks for "Spring Break" the day I get back, thus this is going to be one of the more more "interesting" periods of my life as defined as hectic, crazy, but oh so much fun these next few weeks. You know I will have lots to share in the weeks and months to come.

Carol Fitzgerald (Carol@bookreporter.com)


 

Special Contest: Win Paperback Copies of Lisa See's Bestsellers SHANGHAI GIRLS, PEONY IN LOVE and SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN for Your Group

We are celebrating the paperback release of Shanghai Girls by Lisa See --- a cross-cultural tale of two Chinese sisters sold into marriage in Los Angeles --- with a special contest. 10 readers will have the opportunity to each win one paperback copy of Shanghai Girls for their group. In addition, the winners will receive paperback copies of Lisa See’s previous bestsellers, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Peony in Love.

More about Shanghai Girls:
In 1937 Shanghai, sisters Pearl and May are beautiful, modern and carefree --- until the day their father tells them that he has gambled away their wealth and is selling the girls as wives to men from the United States. Along their journey, they make terrible sacrifices, face impossible choices and confront a devastating, life-changing secret. But through it all, the two heroines of this astounding novel hold fast to who they are --- Shanghai girls.


-Click here for the reading group guide.
 

Click here to read all the contest details.

 
HER MOTHER'S HOPE by Francine Rivers
The first in an epic two-book saga by beloved author Francine Rivers, this sweeping story explores the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters over several generations. Near the turn of the 20th century, fiery Marta leaves Switzerland determined to find life on her own terms. Her journey takes her through Europe and finally lands her with children and husband in tow in the central valley of California.

-Visit Francine Rivers's official website, www.FrancineRivers.com.
-Click here to see our Historical Fiction feature for Francine Rivers and HER MOTHER'S HOPE on Bookreporter.com.

 
Click here to read the guide for Her Mother's Hope.

 
THE SECRET LIFE OF EMILY DICKINSON by Jerome Charyn

What if the old maid of Amherst wasn’t an old maid at all? Her older brother, Austin, spoke of Emily as his “wild sister.” Jerome Charyn, continuing his exploration of American history through fiction, has written a startling novel about Emily Dickinson in her own voice, with all its characteristic modulations that he learned from her letters and poems. The poet dons a hundred veils, alternately playing wounded lover, penitent and female devil.

-Click here to read Jerome Charyn's ReadingGroupGuides.com blog post.
-Click here to see our One to Watch feature for Jerome Charyn and THE SECRET LIFE OF EMILY DICKINSON on Bookreporter.com.

 

Click here to read the guide for The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson.

 
HERESY by S. J. Parris

Set in 1583 against a backdrop of religious-political intrigue and barbaric judicial reprisals, this debut centers on real-life Giordano Bruno, a former Italian monk excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church and hunted across Europe by the Inquisition for his belief in a heliocentric infinite universe.

-Click here to read S. J. Parris's ReadingGroupGuides.com blog post.

Click here to read the guide for Heresy.

 
BONE FIRE by Mark Spragg
Ishawooa, Wyoming, is far from bucolic nowadays. The sheriff, Crane Carlson, needs no reminder of this but gets one anyway when he finds a kid not yet 20 murdered in a meth lab. His other troubles include a wife who’s going off the rails with bourbon and pot, and his own symptoms of the disease that killed his grandfather.
Click here to read the guide for Bone Fire.

 
THE DEVLIN DIARY by Christi Phillips

From the bestselling author of The Rossetti Letter comes a thrilling novel of intrigue, passion and royal secrets that shifts tantalizingly between Restoration-era London and present-day Cambridge, England, and two crimes suspiciously linked despite happening 300 years apart. The Devlin Diary will be available in paperback on April 13th.

 

 

Click here to read the guide for The Devlin Diary.

 
March's Registered Book Club Promotions

For March we have six very special opportunities for Registered Book Groups. Our featured titles this month are Whiter Than Snow by Sandra Dallas, The Dead Travel Fast by Deanna Raybourn, The Book of Spies by Gayle Lynds, Eternal on the Water by Joseph Monninger, Home in Carolina by Sherryl Woods and The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister. Groups who have registered with us by Tuesday, March 16th have the chance to win author chats and/or free books. If your group is not registered, click here to register.

Whiter Than Snow by Sandra Dallas --- Author Chat and Book Giveaway: Three groups will have the opportunity to chat with Sandra Dallas and receive up to 12 copies of the book.

More about Whiter Than Snow:
From The New York Times bestselling author of Prayers for Sale comes the moving and powerful story of a small town after a devastating avalanche and the life-changing effects it has on the people who live there. Whiter Than Snow will be available in stores on March 30th.


The Dead Travel Fast by Deanna Raybourn --- Author Chat and Book Giveaway: Three groups will have the opportunity to chat with Deanna Raybourn and receive up to 12 copies of the book.

More about The Dead Travel Fast:
Award-winning author Deanna Raybourn crafts a classic gothic romance about a novelist who leaves behind a comfortable life in Scotland for adventure and inspiration in Rumania but becomes more involved than she would like when caught up with a vampiric curse afflicting a storied noble family.

The Book of Spies by Gayle Lynds --- Author Chat and Book Giveaway: Three groups will have the opportunity to chat with Gayle Lynds and receive up to 12 copies of the book.

More about The Book of Spies:

Intelligence officer Judd Ryder and rare books curator Eva Blake form an odd duo while in search of a legendary tome. For centuries, emperors, historians and even the Vatican have tried to locate Ivan the Terrible's magnificent Library of Gold. The Book of Spies will be available in stores on March 30th.


Eternal on the Water by Joseph Monninger --- Author Chat and Book Giveaway: Four groups will have the opportunity to chat with Joseph Monninger and receive up to 12 copies of the book.

More about Eternal on the Water:
From the day Cobb and Mary meet kayaking on Maine's Allagash River and fall deeply in love, the two approach life with the same sense of adventure they use to conquer the river's treacherous rapids. But rivers do not let go so easily...and neither does their love.


Home in Carolina by Sherryl Woods --- Author Chat and Book Giveaway: Ten groups will have the opportunity to chat with Sherryl Woods and receive up to 12 copies of the book.

More about Home in Carolina:
There's no place like home, especially if it's Serenity, South Carolina. For Annie Sullivan, though, the homecoming is bittersweet. She'd always envisioned a life there with her childhood best friend, Tyler Townsend. But Ty's betrayal has cost her the family and the future they'd once planned.

 

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister --- Author Chat and Book Giveaway: Ten groups will have the opportunity to chat with Erica Bauermeister and receive up to 12 copies of the book.

More about The School of Essential Ingredients:
Once a month on Monday night, eight students --- including a new mother, a grieving lawyer, an Italian immigrant and a couple with a secret --- gather in Lillian’s restaurant for a cooking class to learn slow-food secrets. The students have come to learn the art behind Lillian’s soulful dishes, but it soon becomes clear that each seeks a recipe for something beyond the kitchen. And one by one they are transformed by the aromas, flavors and textures of what they create.

 

Click here to register your group.

 

This Month's Book Club Interview

Chris Winandy is a member of the Grand Book Club from the Sun City Grand community in Surprise, AZ. In this interview, Chris shares how each member’s background contributes to their discussions. She also mentions some of their favorite reads --- and one that just wouldn’t end.

ReadingGroupGuides.com interviews reading groups from around the world, spotlighting different groups each month. We hope that you enjoy reading about their experiences and might find some new ideas to try with your group. If you belong to a group that you think should be spotlighted, click here to answer our interview questions.
 

Click here to see all our interviews with book clubs.

 
Spotlight on Young Adult Books Perfect for Adults

As you may or may not know, our company, The Book Report Network, has a number of websites about books and authors in addition to ReadingGroupGuides.com. Last month, Bookreporter.com shared a few adult novels on Teenreads.com, our site for young adult readers, that we thought would have definite appeal to a teen audience. In the spirit of sharing, we are now spotlighting a selection of titles from Teenreads.com that we believe are great reads that you might enjoy. This new feature will be updated monthly.

Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
Tricks by Ellen Hopkins
What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

 

Click here to visit Teenreads.com.

 
Become a Fan of ReadingGroupGuides.com on Facebook and Goodreads!
ReadingGroupGuides.com has a fan page on Facebook where we now have more than 1,800 fans! Here we feature our daily blogs and put out questions for discussion. We would 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 of ReadingGroupGuides.com on Facebook. If you're not on Facebook, you can still follow our daily posts here.

We have also created a group page for ReadingGroupGuides.com on Goodreads. Here we are building a virtual bookshelf of the titles we feature on the site. We are looking forward to further developing this page in the months to come.

-Click here to visit ReadingGroupGuides.com's Facebook page.
-Click here to visit ReadingGroupGuides.com's Goodreads page.


 
What's New on the ReadingGroupGuides.com Blog

Our ReadingGroupGuides.com Blog continues to be a big hit among our readers. 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:

-Monika Fagerholm: The American Girl
-S.J. Parris: Heresy
-To finish the book or not to finish the book...
-Greetings from The Pulpwood Queen!

-Significant Objects
-Patricia Sprinkle: Hold Up the Sky
-Wendy Wax: Magnolia Wednesdays
-Jerome Charyn: The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson
-Brave the Snow: Support Your Local Bookstore
-Chris Cleave: Little Bee
-Shakespeare Reading Group: 38 Plays in 38 Days

For those of you who use RSS feeds to keep track of your favorite blogs, you can now add the ReadingGroupGuides.com blog to your list by clicking the link on the blog page.
Also, receive updates by email here.
 

Click here to read the ReadingGroupGuides.com Blog.

 
New Guides Now Available

The following guides are now available on ReadingGroupGuides.com:

The American Girl by Monika Fagerholm: A dark coming-of-age tale of two girls who become obsessed with an unsolved crime. Translated from Swedish.
Apologize, Apologize!
by Elizabeth Kelly: Apologize, Apologize! takes us into the perversely charmed world of the Flanagans and their son, Collie, as he struggles to cope with people he has no choice but to love.
Bone Fire
by Mark Spragg: In this gripping Wyoming story, harsh truths and difficult consolations combine with moments of hilarity, surprise and beauty. No one writes more compellingly about the modern West than Mark Spragg, and in Bone Fire he is at the very height of his powers.
The Book of Spies
by Gayle Lynds: A special forces officer teams up with a rare book curator to track down an elusive tome that holds power and reveals secrets to whomever possesses it.
The Dead Travel
Fast by Deanna Raybourn: Award-winning author Deanna Raybourn crafts a classic gothic romance about a novelist who leaves behind a comfortable life in Scotland for adventure and inspiration in Rumania.
The Devlin Diary
by Christi Phillips: From the bestselling author of The Rossetti Letter comes a thrilling novel of intrigue, passion and royal secrets that shifts tantalizingly between Restoration-era London and present-day Cambridge, England.
An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination
by Elizabeth McCracken: With humor and warmth and unfailing generosity, McCracken considers the nature of love and grief after a devastating miscarriage.

Flyaway: How a Wild Bird Rehabber Sought Adventure and Found Her Wings by Suzie Gilbert: A woman finds her life’s calling after volunteering at an animal shelter, and then turning her own home into a local wild bird rehabilitation center in this funny, fascinating memoir.
The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen: A teenager moves in with her grandfather in hopes of learning more about her mysterious, estranged mother in this Southern-fried novel from the author of The Sugar Queen.
Her Mother’s Hope by Francine Rivers: The first in an epic two-book saga by beloved author Francine Rivers, this sweeping story explores the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters over several generations.
Heresy
by S. J. Parris: An excommunicated monk finds refuge in England until he becomes snared in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with grisly consequences.
Home in Carolina by Sherryl Woods:
Annie Sullivan’s homecoming to Serenity, South Carolina is bittersweet when she learns of a startling betrayal by her childhood friend that jeopardizes the family and lifestyle she once envisioned.
If You Follow Me by Malena Watrous: Hoping to outpace her grief in the wake of her father's suicide, Marina has come to the small, rural Japanese town of Shika to teach English for a year, but soon discovers you can never really throw away your past…or anything else, for that matter.
The Last Child
by John Hart: A North Carolina boy refuses to abandon the search for his twin, who’s been missing for than a year.
Laura Rider’s Masterpiece
by Jane Hamilton: Laura and Charlie Rider reinvent their marriage through an illicit affair, which also gives Laura the perspective and material for the book she feels destined to write.

Legend of a Suicide by David Vann: In Legend of a Suicide, his heartbreaking semi-autobiographical debut story-collection, David Vann relates the story of a young man trying to come to terms with the guilt and pain of his father’s suicide.
The Leisure Seeker
by Michael Zadoorian: A sort of Easy Rider meets The Notebook, this poignant, funny, vibrant and unforgettable novel is a story of two seniors who escape from their retirement home and embark upon a hilarious and touching end-of-life road trip.
The Lost Books of the Odyssey
by Zachary Mason: Weaving together precisely drawn vignettes, fragments and myths, Mason presents a reinvention of Homer’s original that offers rich, sometimes contradictory aspects of the timeless characters who have fascinated humanity’s imagination for centuries.

A Lost Wife’s Tale by Marion McGilvary: A woman reinvents herself as a housekeeper for a prominent, recently-divorced publisher in New York City, who is unaware of her dark past.
Love in Mid Air
by Kim Wright: A chance encounter with a stranger in an airplane sends Elyse Bearden into an emotional tailspin, and leaves her friends questioning their own relationships.

The Miracles of Prato
by Laurie Albanese and Laura Morowitz: At the height of the Italian Renaissance, Filippo Lippi is a Carmelite monk at the Convent Santa Margherita, who finds himself caught between spiritual and earthly pursuits.
The School of Essential Ingredients
by Erica Bauermeister: Once a month, eight students --- including a new mother, a grieving lawyer, an Italian immigrant and a couple with a secret --- gather in Lillian’s restaurant for a cooking class to learn slow-food secrets while uncovering the recipes to heal themselves.
Secret Daughter
by Shilpi Somaya Gowda: This powerful debut explores the emotional terrain of motherhood, loss, identity and love through the experiences of two families --- one Indian, one American.
The Secret of the Glass
by Donna Russo Morin: The acclaimed author of The Courtier’s Secret takes readers into the secret, fascinating world of Murano glassmaking following the murder of three artisans.
The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson
by Jerome Charyn: Internationally acclaimed author Jerome Charyn blends fact with fiction in this inventive exploration into the lesser known facets of legendary poet Emily Dickinson’s life.
Shanghai Girls
by Lisa See: In 1937 Shanghai, sisters Pearl and May are beautiful, modern and carefree --- until the day their father tells them that he has gambled away their wealth and is selling the girls as wives to men from the United States.

Slip of the Knife by Denisa Mina: Set in 1990, Mina's third thriller to feature Paddy Meehan finds the Glaswegian journalist embroiled in the most politically charged and personal story of her career.
Waking Up in the Land of Glitter
by Kathy Cano-Murillo: Two friends learn a dirty little secret while competing in a craft fair, and that beauty, art and creativity can take many more forms than a canvas hanging in a gallery.
Whiter Than Snow
by Sandra Dallas: Bestselling author Sandra Dallas chronicles the aftermath of a devastating avalanche, and the toll it takes on the town and its citizens.

The Writing on My Forehead by Nafisa Haji: A Muslim-American student struggles with her family’s secrets and her cross-cultural identity while aspiring to become a journalist in this impressive debut.
The Yellow House
by Patricia Falvey: A family's future is in the hands of one very brave young Irishwoman in this debut set between World War I and the growing violence of the Irish war of independence.


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

Figures in Silk by Vanora Bennet: Two sisters discover passion during the War of the Roses --- one in the arms of the king, the other in the world of silk.
The Girl She Used To Be
by David Cristofano
: Melody Grace McCartney and her parents witness an act of violence so brutal that it changes their lives forever, and they are forced to change identities. Then a mafioso shows up, calling Melody by the name nobody is supposed to know.
Life Sentences
by Laura Lippman: A successful memoirist returns home to Baltimore to see if she can find a new angle for her next book, and digs up a past she thought had been forgotten.

Mathilda Savitch
by Victor Lodato:
Part murder mystery, part coming-of-age tale, this debut novel by playwright Victor Lodato is told in the funny, transfixing (and intriguingly unreliable) voice of 12-year-old Mathilda.

The following new guides are now available for Christian book groups:

Angel’s Den
by Jamie Carie: In 1808, Emma, the daughter of a prominent St. Louis family, believes she has met and married her dream man but discovers the opposite during a westward adventure.
Deliver Us from Evil by Robin Caroll: Brannon Callahan is a search and rescue helicopter pilot for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, who finds herself embroiled in an international conspiracy after a plane crash.

Forget Me Not
by Vicki Hinze: Benjamin Brandt seemingly has it all until his family is tragically killed, with Benjamin vowing vengeance while reconsidering his own faith.

Once in a Blue Moon
by Leanna Ellis: An unlikely duo explores the strange coincidences tying together a murder and lunar landing in a small Texas town.

 
This Month’s Poll

What percentage of your book club meeting do you actually spend discussing the book?

100%
75%
50%
25%
Less than 25%
Are we meeting to talk about a book?

 

Click here to answer the poll.

 
This Month's Contest Book: LOVE IN MID AIR by Kim Wright
Win a copy of Love in Mid Air by Kim Wright 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 ReadingGroupGuides.com
newsletter by April 1, 2010. If you are receiving this newsletter in your mailbox, you already are signed up!

More about Love in Mid Air:

A chance encounter with a stranger in an airplane sends Elyse Bearden into an emotional tailspin. Suddenly, Elyse is willing to risk everything: her safe but stale marriage, her seemingly perfect life in an affluent Southern suburb, and her position in the church. As Elyse embarks on a risky affair, her longtime friend Kelly and the other women in their book club begin to question their own decisions about love, sex, marriage and freedom. In the end it will take an extraordinary leap of faith for Elyse to find --- and follow --- her own path to happiness. Love in Mid Air will be available in stores on March 29th.
 
Click here to read contest details and rules.

 

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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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