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June 2010 Newsletter June 2010
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A Really Nice Reading Roll...

I have been on a roll reading some great books, which is putting me on a wonderful reading high. As readers, I am sure you all know those moments where each book that you read is one that you connect with --- the kind of a book where the characters feel like they are in the room and the story is one that stays with you. It makes up for those moments where you cannot seem to find your reading groove. When you are in the reading groove, you pick up every new book thinking the experience cannot possibly repeat itself, and when it does, you are thrilled.

I have a new habit, which is giving a book a second try. There are times that I circle back to a book that has not captivated me the first time around; sometimes I was not in the right frame of mind to enjoy it, and going back to it I am much more into the material. Other times it still “does not work” for me, and it gets put aside. I look forward to reading reviews on our website to see what our reviewers have to say. While I appreciate reading their raves of books I raved about, I equally enjoy seeing their feedback on books that did not captivate me, as I like to see what excited them. Every book has a reader --- and it's nice to see the various ways we can champion them. May I suggest you sign up for the weekly newsletter if you have not done so already? I talk about what I am reading each week and give you a heads up on what has been exciting me. Click here to do so.

Late last month I was at BookExpo America, the book trade’s annual convention. While there, I got a sneak peek at what’s upcoming for fall 2010. This included great discussion titles for book clubs as six of the largest publishers each shared 5 selections at a panel that I moderated. I am happy to share their selections with you here. We will have a video of this presentation posted shortly so you can see comments from the publishers on why they selected these titles.

Authors are a big part of this show, and meeting up with them to talk about their work is a highlight for me. I got to catch up with Kathryn Stockett, the author of The Help. She was so gracious and utterly charming as she was honored with the American Booksellers Association Award for the Debut Book of the Year. My son found her on the show floor later and teased her that he was holding her responsible for his less-than-stellar midterm grades as he was totally captivated with The Help. She loved that story.

The 50th anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is being celebrated this summer, and it gives us time to ponder this true American classic. There was a video setup at BEA asking readers for comments about the book, which Greg and I both participated in. I was really proud to hear his comments about what the book meant to him while I shared how it works for discussion across generations. I remember my younger son not grasping the depths of racial prejudice when he read it, reminding me that strides have been made. I am looking forward to reading Scout, Atticus & Boo: A Celebration of Fifty Years of To Kill a Mockingbird by filmmaker Mary McDonagh Murphy, who has interviewed prominent figures on how the book has impacted their lives. HarperCollins, the publisher of the trade paperback version of the book, also had a book that show attendees could sign that they will get to Harper Lee. It was a nice moment to be a part of.

A few weeks ago, a CNN segment with Campbell Brown interviewing Greg Mortenson aired, honoring him for his work with his Pennies for Peace program. Many of you have read his bestselling book Three Cups of Tea and his latest one, Stones into School. My younger son, Cory, helped his school raise $25,000 for this project since September, mostly in pennies, which was quite an achievement. The student segments for the CNN piece were shot at his school, and you can see them here. I was really proud to see this programming air.

As many of you surely know by now, May marked the 10th anniversary of the launch of I have gotten a number of lovely notes from readers about this special milestone. We loved reading the results of last month’s poll asking when you discovered the site. More than 400 of you responded, and of the respondents, more than 46% said you have been reading for more than five years. It's terrific knowing you have been part of the site for that long.

If your group has not entered our 10th Anniversary Contest, here is a reminder about our PRIZES --- fifty (50) $200 gift certificates. Our plan is that you can use the gift card for a month's worth of books for your group. Also, you could use the gift card to donate books to a local library, school or charitable organization. The gift cards will be purchased for the retailer of your choice. To enter, share what you think were the Top 10 Favorite Discussion Books. Click here for our official entry form. You have until August 31st to enter! I confess that I may take a peek in advance just to see if I see any trends to share from your selections!

We would love to get word out about our contest as far and wide as possible. May we ask that you post, email or hand out these flyers about the contest? We have made special ones for you to share with your book club members if you are in a group, with your customers if you are a bookseller, and with your patrons if you are a librarian. If you are a librarian, remember that a group can designate your library as the recipient of their prize, if they wish, or you can enter for your library. For stores, you will be a "winner" as well if a winning group has selected your store for their gift card. You also can enter on behalf of your store. With this contest, we are trying to celebrate with as many of our readers as possible.

Lots of great reading on the site this month. We have a guide for The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, which is the wildly anticipated third title in Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy. Last week my son Greg and I went to see the Swedish film that was made of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which is just terrific. I never even noticed the subtitles. We were trying to visualize how the U.S. remake can be better. Our Editorial Director, John Hogan, went to see the movie with his book club, and he will be blogging with us about that experience in the next few weeks.

Charles Martin has been a favorite author of mine since his first book, The Dead Don't Dance, came out. His latest, The Mountain Between Us, is his best book to date and it's also our contest book this month. You can read an interview with Charles here. There's lots to discuss in it. I am a huge fan of great hotels, and the Four Seasons is one of my favorites, thus when I met Alix Strauss at BEA and she told me her novel Based Upon Availability that we are featuring this month was based there, I knew this was one I wanted to read. There are moments when I am in hotels that I wish the walls could talk. And there's much more to read this month as well.

This month we’re a hosting a contest where 50 readers can win an advance copy of Dori Ostermiller’s debut novel, Outside the Ordinary World. This is a coming-of-age story where a mother is reflecting back on her rough childhood during the 1970s while promising not to make the same mistakes her parents made. She soon finds her behavior and lifestyle mirroring those she swore she would never follow. The book won’t be out until July 27th, but you can you win an advance copy for your group’s consideration by entering here by Tuesday, July 6th.

Each summer on we host our Beach Bag of Books Feature and Contest. Outside the Ordinary World is one of our featured titles that will be part of a contest in an upcoming week. There are still a few days left to enter to win our current beach bag contest; featured titles include Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal by Julie Metz, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe, Needles and Pearls by Gil McNeil and The Wildwater Walking Club by Claire Cook. Along with those fabulous titles, you’ll also receive a bright polka dot beach towel, Crystal Light lemonade, striped placemats, dishes and glasses for a picnic, fish towel clips and a water gun, all packed in a blue-striped beach bag tote. Enter to win here by Friday, June 11th at noon ET. You can see all our Beach Bag titles here.

Another Beach Bag title is Sima’s Undergarments for Women by Ilana Stanger-Ross, a funny, touching story about women of all ages bonding in the basement studio of a seamstress. This month we’re offering five book clubs the chance to win copies of the book and chat with Ilana. Fifteen groups can win a chat with Trish Ryan, author of A Maze of Grace: A Memoir of Second Chances, as well as copies of the book. Trish really opens up about trying marriage for the second time, and trying to break a lot of the stereotypes of marriage, divorce and starting over. These contests are only for our registered readers, but you can easily register your group here.

Those of you who are looking for suggestions for the men in your life for Father’s Day may want to check out the Father’s Day Feature and Contest. You have until Monday, June 14th to enter this contest here. We have a really nice list of both fiction and nonfiction titles, and each of the five winners will receive a copy of each of our 12 featured titles, thus giving Dad a book per month for the year!

Our latest poll asks, “Do you feel your book group’s discussions of a title are thorough enough?” You can vote here. We look forward to seeing what you have to say about this. You can also keep up with our daily blog here, and you can contact Contributing Editor Dana Barrett ( with any ideas or items you think might be blog worthy. All our blog pieces are also on our Facebook page, which you can become a fan of here.

As always, here’s wishing you and your group a great month of reading.

Carol Fitzgerald (


Click here to see 30 Hot Book Club Picks for Fall.

Special Contest: Win an Advance Copy of OUTSIDE THE ORDINARY WORLD by Dori Ostermiller for Your Group

We are previewing the summer release of Outside the Ordinary World by Dori Ostermiller --- a story of mothers, daughters, secrets and revelations --- with a special contest. 50 readers will have the opportunity to each win one advance copy of the book, which will be in stores on July 27th, for their group. The deadline for entries is Tuesday, July 6th at noon ET.

More about Outside the Ordinary World:
Sylvia Sandon always swore she wouldn't become her mother. But one August morning, she finds herself walking the same prodigal path as the fervently religious yet faithless Elaine…into an affair she feels powerless to resist. Outside the Ordinary World reveals what lies beneath the surface of infidelity. But at its heart, it is the story of the powerful, sometimes disturbing bond between mothers and daughters, and the shimmering line between self-revelation and self-destruction.

-Click here for the reading group guide.

Click here to read all the contest details.'s 10th Anniversary Contest --- $10,000 in Prizes is celebrating its 10th anniversary!

We appreciate all of you who have been loyal readers and contributors to the site. One of the best parts about watching flourish over the last decade has been the opportunity to be a part of book clubs in far-flung places. Imagine if we could celebrate with all of you in person --- what an event that would be! Since that’s not possible, we’ve come up with a way to celebrate with you: a special contest with $10,000 in prizes.

Click here to read all the contest details.

Lisbeth Salander --- the heart of Stieg Larsson’s two previous Millennium novels --- lies in critical condition, a bullet wound to her head, in a Swedish city hospital. She’s fighting for her life in more ways than one: if and when she recovers, she’ll be taken back to Stockholm to stand trial for three murders. With the help of her friend, journalist Mikael Blomkvist, she will not only have to prove her innocence, but also identify and denounce those in authority who have allowed the vulnerable, like herself, to suffer abuse and violence. And, on her own, she will plot revenge.
Click here to read the guide for The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.


On a stormy winter night, two strangers wait for a flight at the Salt Lake City airport. Ashley Knox is an attractive, successful writer, who is flying East for her wedding. Dr. Ben Payne has just wrapped up a medical conference and is also eager to get back East for a slate of surgeries. When the last outgoing flight is cancelled due to a storm, Ben charters a plane and invites Ashley along. And then the unthinkable happens. The pilot has a heart attack mid-flight and the plane crashes into the High Uintas Wilderness --- one of the largest stretches of harsh and remote land in the United States.

-Click here to see our One to Watch feature for Charles Martin and The Mountain Between Us on

Click here to read the guide for The Mountain Between Us.

Now Available in Paperback: THE FIXER UPPER by Mary Kay Andrews
After her boss in a high-powered Washington public relations firm is caught in a political scandal, fledgling lobbyist Dempsey Jo Killebrew is left almost broke, unemployed and homeless. Out of options, she reluctantly accepts her father's offer to help refurbish Birdsong, the old family place he recently inherited in Guthrie, Georgia. All it will take, he tells her, is a little paint and some TLC to turn the fading Victorian mansion into a real-estate cash cow.

Click here to read the guide for The Fixer Upper.

Now Available in Paperback: PERFECTION: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal, by Julie Metz

Julie Metz's life changed forever on one ordinary January afternoon when her husband, Henry, collapsed on the kitchen floor and died in her arms. Suddenly, this mother of a six-year-old became the young widow in her bucolic small town. But that was only the beginning. Seven months after Henry's death, just when Julie thought she was emerging from the worst of it, came the rest of it: She discovered that what had appeared to be the reality of her marriage was but a half-truth. Henry had hidden another life from her.

-Click here to see our One to Watch feature for Julie Metz and Perfection on

Click here to read the guide for Perfection.


Bennie Salazar, an aging punk rocker and record executive, and the beautiful Sasha, the troubled young woman he employs, never discover each other's pasts, but the reader does, in intimate detail, along with the secret lives of a host of other people whose paths intersect with theirs in the course of nearly 50 years. A Visit from the Goon Squad is about time, about survival, about our private terrors, and what happens when we fail to rebound.

Click here to read the guide for A Visit from the Goon Squad.


AMERICAN MUSIC by Jane Mendelsohn

At the book’s center are Milo, a severely wounded veteran of the Iraq War confined to a rehabilitation hospital, and Honor, his physical therapist, a former dancer. When Honor touches Milo’s destroyed back, mysterious images from the past appear to each of them, puzzling her and shaking him to the core. A beautiful mystery and a meditation on love --- its power and its limitations --- American Music is a brilliantly original novel.
Click here to read the guide for American Music.

THE LIES WE TOLD by Diane Chamberlain
Maya and Rebecca Ward are both accomplished physicians, but that's where the sisters' similarities end. As teenagers, they witnessed their parents' murder, but it was Rebecca who saved Maya from becoming another of the gunman's victims. The tragedy left Maya cautious and timid, settling for a sedate medical practice with her husband, Adam, while Rebecca became the risk taker. Years later, a devastating storm leaves Maya injured and stranded while Rebecca and Adam presume she’s dead, and take comfort in each other.
Click here to read the guide for The Lies We Told.

MISS YOU MOST OF ALL by Elizabeth Bass
Sassy Spinster Farm is a place to find solace. At least, that’s what it’s become since Rue Anderson and her sister Laura transformed their childhood Texas homestead into a successful tourist destination. It’s where guests flock to get their hands dirty and taste food fresh from the garden. And it’s where Rue is raising her preteen daughter on her own --- while trying to keep her outspoken sister in check. It’s not easy, but together, it seems there’s nothing the two can’t handle --- until an unexpected, and not entirely welcome guest shows up in the middle of one warm summer night.

-Click here to see our One to Watch feature for Elizabeth Bass and Miss You Most of All on

Click here to read the guide for Miss You Most of All.


From the very first page of this stunning novel, readers are drawn into the lives of eight seemingly ordinary women who pass through Manhattan's swanky Four Seasons Hotel. While offering sanctuary to some, solace to others, the hotel captures their darkest moments as they grapple with family, sex, power, love and death.


Click here to read the guide for Based Upon Availability.

June's Registered Book Club Promotions

For June we have two very special opportunities for Registered Book Groups. Our featured titles this month are Sima’s Undergarments for Women by Ilana Stanger-Ross and A Maze of Grace: A Memoir of Second Chances by Trish Ryan. Groups who have registered with us by Tuesday, June 15th have the chance to win author chats and/or free books. If your group is not registered, click here to register.

Sima’s Undergarments for Women by Ilana Stanger-Ross --- Author Chat and Book Giveaway: Five groups will have the opportunity to chat with Ilana Stanger-Ross and receive up to 10 copies of the book.

More about Sima’s Undergarments for Women:
Sima’s Undergarments for Women
is an astutely observed chronicle of the strength and resilience of women; the complicated, multifaceted nature of female friendship; and of the joys, regrets, and forgiveness that constitute a marriage. Author Ilana Stanger-Ross has created a world that envelopes and embraces the reader, taking her on the search for the perfect relationship, the perfect body, and the perfect bra.

A Maze of Grace: A Memoir of Second Chances by Trish Ryan--- Author Chat and Book Giveaway: Fifteen groups will have the opportunity to chat with Trish Ryan and receive up to 10 copies of the book.

More about A Maze of Grace:
Ryan brings the perspective of someone whose experience differs from the way marriage is often portrayed --- she’s happy! Yet happiness was hard-won, she admits. As Ryan searched for advice for her second attempt at marriage, she found much talk centered on failure. “Happy people are apparently too polite to write books about how well things are going,” she observed. But Ryan found her “happily-ever-after” with an unexpected bonus --- in addition to a husband, she gained a newfound sense of self and shares her struggles with infertility, depression, and universal questions about body image, what makes good sex and even better marriage.

Click here to register your group.

New Guides Now Available

American Music by Jane Mendelsohn: An Iraq war veteran and his physical therapist are linked by mysterious, chilling visions in this unusual, creative love story.
Based Upon Availability by Alix Strauss: The lives of eight women patronizing Manhattan’s swank Four Seasons are chronicled as they grapple with life, death, sex and family.
Commuters by Emily Gray Tedrowe: Well into their 70s, Winnie McClelland and wealthy Jerry Trevis have fallen in love, causing consternation among their extended family when financial and estate issues begin to cloud their parents’ happiness.

The Devil Amongst the Lawyers by Sharyn McCrumb: McCrumb blends fact and fiction in this historical thriller about the media frenzy surrounding a murder in a small Appalachian town in 1935.
Dreaming in Hindi: Coming Awake in Another Language by Katherine Russell Rich: A writer gets a new lease on life after sequestering herself in Udaipur, India to learn Hindi while on assignment.
The Fixer Upper by Mary Kay Andrews: A high-powered public relations executive loses everything during a scandal, only to find a new meaning for her life while renovating an old country manor.
The German Woman by Paul Griner: An English widow and an American expatriate share a torrid affair during World War II, but as the war moves to its violent conclusion, their loyalties are tested.
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson: The thrilling conclusion to Larsson’s international bestselling Millennium series finds Lisbeth Salander clinging to life as Mikael Blomqvist tries to exonerate her.
The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors by Michele Young-Stone: Crackling with atmosphere and eccentric characters, The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors explores the magic of nature and the power of redemption in a novel as beautiful and unpredictable as lightning itself.

Imperfect Endings: A Daughter’s Tale of Life and Death by Zoe FitzGerald Carter: A daughter experiences a range of emotions upon learning of her mother’s desire to “end things” after a long bout with a terminal illness.
In the Sanctuary of Outcasts: A Memoir by Neil White: The emotional, incredible true story of Neil White, a man who discovers the secret to happiness, leading a fulfilling life, and the importance of fatherhood in the most unlikely of places --- the last leper colony in the continental United States.
The Lace Makers of Glenmara by Heather Barbieri: A struggling young fashion designer journeys to Ireland to mend a broken heart, and helps a group of local lace makers change their lives --- and her own.
The Lies We Told by Diane Chamberlain: Chamberlain’s latest is an extraordinarily touching new novel about the devastating secrets that test the inconstant yet unbreakable bond between sisters --- bonds forged by love, loyalty, betrayal and forgiveness.

A Maze of Grace: A Memoir of Second Chances by Trish Ryan: Ryan reflects on her first five years of marriage, including proud moments and pitfalls on her way to spiritual and romantic enlightenment.
Miss You Most of All by Elizabeth Bass: Two sisters enjoy the success of their resort ranch until an unwelcome guest from their past arrives, desperate for help.
The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin: A doctor and a bride-to-be fight for survival in the Rockies during a blizzard after their plane crashes, leaving them stranded, injured and questioning their destinies.
Outside the Ordinary World by Dori Ostermiller: This debut is the story of the powerful, sometimes disturbing bond between mothers and daughters, and the shimmering line between self-revelation and self-destruction.
The Stormchasers by Jenna Blum: Twins are forced to confront a violent secret from their past in Jenna Blum’s first novel since her runaway bestseller, Those Who Save Us.
The Truth About Delilah Blue by Tish Cohen: Just as Delilah’s father falls further and further into Alzheimer’s, she discovers that he’s been harboring a horrible secret for over 15 years, but he no longer remembers the motivations behind his deception…or the consequences.
Villa Mirabella by Peter Pezzelli: A trio of siblings struggle to put aside their differences to save the family’s bed and breakfast from foreclosure.
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan: The pasts of an aging record executive and his beautiful assistant intertwine during a 50-year span across rock history.

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

The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale:
Mormon housewife Becky Jack is seven months pregnant with her fourth child when she meets celebrity hearththrob Felix Callahan. Twelve hours, one elevator ride, and one alcohol-free dinner later, something has happened.
The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón: The author of the international bestseller The Shadow of the Wind returns with a riveting new masterpiece about love, literature and betrayal.
Blame by Michelle Huneven:
In this gripping tale, Huneven charts the parameters of guilt and how a young, wisecracking intellectual becomes a shadow of her former self.
The Color of Lightning by Paulette Jiles: The author of Stormy Weather and Enemy Women returns with a lively exploration of revenge, dedication and betrayal set mainly in Kentucky and Texas near the end of the Civil War.
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.
Life Without Summer by Lynne Griffin: A woman investigates the circumstances surrounding her daughter's sudden death while forging a deep bond with her therapist.
Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal by Julie Metz: A woman's seemingly perfect life is destroyed by her husband's sudden death and the unraveling of the secret life he led.

Sima’s Undergarments for Women by Ilana Stanger-Ross: A Brooklyn garment maker finds herself full of regret upon her 60th birthday despite her thriving business, until she meets an unlikely seamstress who changes her perspective.
That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo: The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls follows a man coming to grip with his family's checkered past and his own uncertain future.

The following guides are now available for Christian book groups:

Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes: A writer returns home to confront the difficult past she left behind and the people left in its wake, including the father of her daughter.
It Had to Be You: Weddings by Bella, Book 3
by Janice Thompson: Bella begins planning her aunt and uncle’s much-anticipated wedding, but it may prove too much to handle once extended family from Italy begins arriving.
This Fine Life
by Eva Marie Everson: A recent graduate struggles with life decisions until her future unfolds before her one day in her father’s factory.


This Month's Contest Book: THE MOUNTAIN BETWEEN US by Charles Martin

Win copies of The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin 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 July 1, 2010. If you are receiving this newsletter in your mailbox, you already are signed up!

More about The Mountain Between Us:
On a stormy winter night, two strangers wait for a flight at the Salt Lake City airport. Ashley Knox is an attractive, successful writer, who is flying East for her wedding. Dr. Ben Payne has just wrapped up a medical conference and is also eager to get back East for a slate of surgeries. When the last outgoing flight is cancelled due to a storm, Ben charters a plane and invites Ashley along. And then the unthinkable happens. The pilot has a heart attack mid-flight and the plane crashes into the High Uintas Wilderness --- one of the largest stretches of harsh and remote land in the United States.

Click here to read all the contest details.


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Happy reading. We'll see you next month.

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Carol Fitzgerald (

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