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July 2010 Newsletter July 2010
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Reading: The Sport for Any Weather

I have decided that reading is a sport for any weather. This week the temperatures in New York spiked somewhere around 103, and thus turning pages indoors won out over a lot of outdoor activities, though floating in an oversized tube in the pool was pretty nice, too. I still want someone to calculate how many pages one needs to turn to shed one pound --- and how fast one needs to turn them. I do think reading is my favorite sport --- think of the exercise that my mind gets from it!

This month we have three special contests for you to win books for your group. Our first contest is for Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger, author of the acclaimed bestseller The Time Traveler’s Wife, which found a real audience with book clubs. Her Fearful Symmetry is a different type of story with a supernatural twist about twin sisters who are bequeathed a flat from an aunt they hardly knew and, of course, there are strings attached to their inheritance. This one is sure to spark some interesting discussions. We have 50 paperback copies to give away. Enter here by Wednesday, August 4th at noon ET.

Our second contest is to for Naseem Rakha’s The Crying Tree, about a Midwestern family that relocates to the Pacific Northwest and is rocked by a horrific tragedy that will test the remaining family members’ spirit and the depths of the power of forgiveness. Naseem tells the story from the different family members’ perspectives as they cope and heal. This was not a title I was familiar with, but after reading about it, I promptly added it to my ever-expanding list. We have 50 paperback copies to give away. Enter here by Wednesday, August 4th at noon ET.

Our final contest is for Li Cunxin’s memoir, Mao’s Last Dancer. This has been a popular book club pick for a few years, but will be getting a lot of attention when the film adaptation begins hitting theaters later this summer. The movie will be in limited release, so please check with your local theaters to see if they will be screening it. You can check out the movie’s official trailer here. For those unfamiliar with this memoir, Li Cunxin was taken from his poor, desolate town in rural China by government officials and pressed into a ballet program where he became one of the most accomplished dancers in the world. Desperate to leave Chairman Mao’s oppressive regime, Li decided to defect to America. His story is riveting and reads like a novel, not a memoir. We have 24 copies of the book to give away, so enter here by Wednesday, August 4th at noon ET for your chance to win.

For our registered readers, we have a special opportunity for 15 groups to win a chat with Travis Thrasher, author of Broken. Travis tells the story of a young woman who is part of Chicago’s upper crust, living the high society “dream life.” Some bad decisions and running with the wrong crowd lead her to a new life on the streets, where she becomes the center of a murder investigation. This special contest is only available for reading groups registered with us. You can register your group by Tuesday, July 20th to be eligible for this giveaway, and future special offers, by signing up here.

Have you entered the 10th Anniversary Contest yet? If not, what are you waiting for? We’re offering $10,000 in prizes as we ask groups to share their Top 10 Favorite Discussion Books. Once the contest ends on August 31st, we’ll select 50 winners to receive a $200 gift card to a retailer of their choice. Groups also have the option to donate their gift card to a local library, school or organization of their choice. Of course, we’ll share all the top picks with you soon after the contest ends. You can read more details about the contest and enter here.

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.

Speaking of great giveaways,’s Beach Bag of Books contests will be running throughout the rest of the summer. Five lucky winners will win a beach bag stocked with a collection of titles as well as a variety of excellent beach-themed gifts. Five runners-up will also receive copies of the books. Our latest contest is a Women’s Collection featuring The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale, Going in Circles by Pamela Ribon, Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home by Rhoda Janzen, and The Season of Second Chances by Diane Meier. Click here to enter this contest by July 23rd, and sign up for the newsletter here to learn about future contests.

Our Blog continues to post great pieces each weekday, including blogs from librarians, book group leaders and reviewers. Some recent posts include a review of Chevy Stevens’s debut thriller, Still Missing, which I loved, and was also one of our featured Debut Suspense/Thriller Author Spotlight titles on Written by our three regular librarian contributors --- Sonja Somerville, Robin Beerbower and Liz Hughes --- they share their thoughts on great discussions questions for this book, which you can read here. Our Contributing Editor Dana Barrett also has pulled together some guest posts from Christopher Nicholson, author of The Elephant Keeper; Lee Kravitz, author of Unfinished Business; and Lola Shoneyin, author of The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives, all of whom are featured in this month’s update. If you have a blog idea or book club news for Dana, contact her here. All of our posts also appear on the Facebook page, which you can join here.

Last month’s poll asked: “Do you feel your book group’s discussions of a title are thorough enough?” More than 400 of you responded, with close to 80 percent voting that you delve directly into the material. We also have a new poll question this month asking: “Do you ever re-read classic titles on your own or with your group?” You can vote here.

As mentioned last month, 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. Doing our part to bring attention to this treasured title, our monthly newsletter contest title is To Kill a Mockingbird: 50th Anniversary Edition. One lucky newsletter subscriber will be chosen at random to receive 20 copies of the book for his or her group. What a terrific experience it would be to have your group re-read this treasure and see what you all feel about it now.

Hope all of you are able to beat the heat with a good book!

Carol Fitzgerald ([email protected])


Special Contest: Win a Paperback Copy of HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY by Audrey Niffenegger for Your Group

We are celebrating the paperback release of Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger --- a supernatural story of twin sisters and their inheritance from an aunt they hardly knew --- with a special contest. 50 readers will have the opportunity to each win one copy of the book, which is in stores now, for their group. The deadline for entries is Wednesday, August 4th at noon ET.

More about Her Fearful Symmetry:
Julia and Valentina Poole are 20-year-old sisters with an intense attachment to each other. One morning the mailman delivers a thick envelope to their house in the suburbs of Chicago. Their English aunt Elspeth Noblin has died of cancer and left them her London apartment. There are two conditions for this inheritance: that they live in the flat for a year before they sell it and that their parents not enter it.

-Click here for the reading group guide.

Click here to read all the contest details.

Special Contest: Win a Paperback Copy of THE CRYING TREE by Naseem Rakha for Your Group
We are celebrating the paperback release of The Crying Tree by Naseem Rakha --- a powerful story of family bonds, forgiveness and death row --- with a special contest. 50 readers will have the opportunity to each win one copy of the book, which is in stores now, for their group. The deadline for entries is Wednesday, August 4th at noon ET.

More about The Crying Tree:
A Midwestern family relocates to the Pacific Northwest only to have their son murdered during a robbery. The culprit is sentenced to death, giving the Stanley family peace of mind that justice has been served. However, as the execution date nears, each family member begins examining their own thoughts and emotions. The Crying Tree is a wrenching portrait of a family and forgiveness.

-Click here for the reading group guide.
Click here to read all the contest details.

Special Contest: Win a Copy of the Movie Tie-In Edition of MAO'S LAST DANCER by Li Cunxin for Your Group
We are celebrating the upcoming film adaptation of Mao’s Last Dancer by Li Cunxin --- the bestselling memoir of a young boy’s journey from rural China to international ballet stardom --- with a special contest. 24 readers will have the opportunity to each win one copy of the movie tie-in edition of the book for their group. This edition will be available on July 27th, and the film will be released in select cities later this summer. The deadline for entries is Wednesday, August 4th at noon ET.

More about Mao’s Last Dancer:
From a poor village in northeast China, at age 11, Li Cunxin was chosen by Madame Mao's cultural delegates to be taken from his rural home and brought to Beijing, where he would study ballet. In 1979, the young dancer arrived in Texas as part of a cultural exchange, only to fall in love with America --- and with an American woman. Two years later, through a series of events worthy of the most exciting cloak-and-dagger fiction, he defected to the United States, where he quickly became known as one of the greatest ballet dancers in the world.

-Click here for the reading group guide.
Click here to read all the contest details.

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD: 50th Anniversary Edition, by Harper Lee

One of the best-loved classics of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird has earned many distinctions since its original publication in 1960. It has won the Pulitzer Prize, been translated into more than 40 languages, sold more than 40 million copies worldwide, and been made into an enormously popular movie. It was also named the best novel of the 20th century by librarians across the country (Library Journal). HarperCollins is proud to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the book's publication with this special hardcover edition.

-Click here to learn more about the book and its historic anniversary.

Click here to read the guide for To Kill a Mockingbird: 50th Anniversary Edition.

Now Available in Paperback: LIT: A Memoir, by Mary Karr
One of the most acclaimed books of 2009, Lit is about getting drunk and getting sober; becoming a mother by letting go of a mother; learning to write by learning to live. Written with Karr's relentless honesty, unflinching self-scrutiny, and irreverent, lacerating humor, it is a truly electrifying story of how to grow up --- as only bestselling memoirist Mary Karr can tell it.

Click here to read the guide for Lit: A Memoir.

PERFECT READER by Maggie Pouncey

In this enchanting debut novel, Maggie Pouncey brings to life the unforgettable Flora Dempsey, the headstrong and quick-witted only child of Lewis Dempsey, a beloved former college president and famous literary critic in the league of Harold Bloom. At once comic and profound, Perfect Reader is a heady, uplifting story of loneliness and of the spur to growth that grief can be. Brimming with energy and with the elbow-patchy wisdom of her still-vivid father, Flora’s story will set her free to be the “perfect reader” --- not just of her father’s life but of her own as well.

Click here to read the guide for Perfect Reader.

A FIERCE RADIANCE by Lauren Belfer

From the New York Times bestselling author of City of Light comes a compelling, richly detailed tale of passion and intrigue set in New York City during the tumultuous early days of World War II. In this highly anticipated follow-up, she deftly captures the uncertainty and spirit, the dreams and hopes, of a nation at war. A sweeping tale of love and betrayal, intrigue and idealism, A Fierce Radiance is an ambitious and deeply engaging novel from an author of immense talent.

Click here to read the guide for A Fierce Radiance.



Julie Orringer’s astonishing first novel, eagerly awaited since the publication of her heralded bestselling short-story collection, How to Breathe Underwater, is a grand love story set against the backdrop of Budapest and Paris, an epic tale of three brothers whose lives are ravaged by war, and the chronicle of one family’s struggle against the forces that threaten to annihilate it. Expertly crafted, magnificently written, emotionally haunting, and impossible to put down, The Invisible Bridge resoundingly confirms Julie Orringer’s place as one of today’s most vital and commanding young literary talents.
Click here to read the guide for The Invisible Bridge.

AFTER THE FALL by Kylie Ladd
“I had been married three years when I fell in love,” begins Kate, a firecracker of a woman who thought she’d found the yin to her yang in Cary, her sensible and adoring husband. For their friend Luke --- a charismatic copywriter who loves women and attention in equal measure, and preferably together --- life has been more than sweet beside Cressida, the dutiful pediatric oncologist who stole his heart. But when a whimsical flirtation between Kate and Luke turns into something far more dangerous, the foursome will be irrevocably intertwined by more than just their shared history.
Click here to read the guide for After the Fall.

MOZART'S BLOOD by Louise Marley
Award winning author Louise Marley’s compelling, intricately layered story of a beautiful soprano who shares an everlasting bond with the world’s most notorious musical genius… Octavia Voss is an ethereal singer whose poise and talent belie her young age. In truth, she is a centuries-old vampire who once “shared the tooth” with Mozart himself. To protect her secret, Octavia’s even more ancient friend Ugo stalks the streets to find the elixir that feeds his muse’s soul.
Click here to read the guide for Mozart's Blood.


Eve has had it --- she's no "wicked stepmonster" in the making. She absolutely adores Ian, the new man in her life, and she's more than willing to open her heart to his kids. But nothing she does is right in their eyes, and she just can't take it anymore. You can choose your family --- but are you sure you want to? That’s the question Samantha Baker poses in The Other Mothers’ Club --- a fresh, funny and touching fictional look at stepmotherhood, an often-misrepresented aspect of female life.

Click here to read the guide for The Other Mothers' Club.

Now Available in Paperback: THE ELEPHANT KEEPER by Christopher Nicholson

England, 1766: After a long voyage from the East Indies, a ship docks in Bristol, England, and a rumor quickly spreads about its unusual cargo. In the final two crates is a pair of young elephants, in poor health but alive. The Elephant Keeper is a captivating tale of love and loyalty between one man and the two exotic animals that change the lives of everyone who encounters them.


Click here to read the guide for The Elephant Keeper.

July's Registered Book Club Promotion

For July we have a very special opportunity for Registered Book Groups. Our featured title this month is Broken by Travis Thrasher. Groups who have registered with us by Tuesday, July 20th have the chance to win author chats and/or free books. If your group is not registered, click here to register.

Broken by Travis Thrasher --- Author Chat and Book Giveaway: Fifteen groups will have the opportunity to chat with Travis Thrasher and receive up to 10 copies of the book.

More about Broken:
Laila had it all --- love, family and wealth --- but then her world falls apart and Laila finds herself living an empty, dangerous life as a call girl in Chicago. When she is threatened, Laila shoots and kills a client in self-defense, sending herself into a spiral of guilt and emptiness. Six months later, she is trying to move on, but she's haunted by the past. She hasn't told anyone about the man she killed, yet someone seems to know the haunting truth.

Click here to register your group.

New Guides Now Available

After the Fall by Kylie Ladd: In her page-turning fiction debut, neuropsychologist Kylie Ladd delivers a searing portrait of two marriages united and betrayed by friendship.
The Blessings of the Animals by Katrina Kittle: From Katrina Kittle, the critically acclaimed author of The Kindness of Strangers, comes a wry, engrossing and moving story of a veterinarian’s journey through the aftermath of divorce amidst a motley crew of beasts.
The Crying Tree by Naseem Rakha: Family members ponder forgiveness as the execution date for the man who murdered their son approaches.
The Elephant Keeper by Christopher Nicholson: A poignant and magical story set in 18th-century England, The Elephant Keeper by Christopher Nicholson is the tale of two baby elephants and the young man who accidentally finds himself their guardian.
The Family Beach House by Holly Chamberlin: A quartet of siblings bickers over the family beach house after hearing the news that their father intends to remarry, and jeopardize their inheritance.
A Fierce Radiance by Lauren Belfer: Penicillin operates as the source of romance, murder and melodrama in Lauren Belfer's evocative, ambitious WWII-era novel that follows a journalist during the drug’s inception.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson: The worldwide bestseller introduces crusading journalist Mikael Blomqvist and hacker extraordinaire Lisbeth Salander in the first volume of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy.
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger: Following her breakout bestseller, The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger returns with a haunting tale about the complications of love, identity and sibling rivalry.
The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer: A Jewish architecture student is forced to return to his native Hungary along with his girlfriend at the beginning of World War II.
Labor Day by Joyce Maynard: The unforgettable story of a mother and son forever changed during a long summer weekend when a mysterious man comes into their lives.
The Last War by Ana Menéndez: From the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq to the strange, shimmering streets of Istanbul, The Last War is a “seductive meditation” (O, The Oprah Magazine) on cruelty and violence, love and identity from Pushcart Prize-winning author Ana Menéndez.
Lit: A Memoir by Mary Karr: Written with bestselling memoirist Mary Karr's relentless honesty, unflinching self-scrutiny, and irreverent, lacerating humor, Lit is a truly electrifying story of how to grow up.
Mao’s Last Dancer by Li Cunxin: Li Cunxin was taken from his home in rural China at a young age by the Chinese government and became an international ballet star before defecting to America.
Mozart’s Blood by Louise Marley: A talented musician goes to great lengths to conceal her romantic and spiritual ties to the legendary composer.
The Other Mothers’ Club by Samantha Baker: You can choose your family --- but are you sure you want to? That’s the question Samantha Baker poses in The Other Mothers’ Club --- a fresh, funny and touching fictional look at stepmotherhood, an often-misrepresented aspect of female life.
Perfect Reader by Maggie Pouncey: Flora Dempsey returns home to handle her father’s literary estate only to discover a cache of love poems to a mystery woman with her own sights on the estate.
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin: The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives is a perceptive, funny and eye-opening debut novel of polygamy in modern-day Nigeria, perfect for fans of Half of a Yellow Sun or The 19th Wife.
So Cold the River by Michael Koryta: A struggling filmmaker accepts an offer to make a documentary of a wealthy industrialist in a small Indiana town that harbors many secrets.
Some Girls: My Life in a Harem by Jillian Lauren: In this explosive memoir, Lauren recounts her route from NYU undergraduate to concubine in the royal court of Brunei.
The Sullivan Saga: Memories of an Overseas Childhood by M.H. Sullivan: The daughter of a State Department diplomat recounts her atypical childhood raised in parts of Asia and Africa.
To Kill a Mockingbird: 50th Anniversary Edition by Harper Lee: HarperCollins is proud to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird with this special hardcover edition. Learn more about the book and its historic anniversary here.

Unfinished Business: One Man’s Extraordinary Year of Trying to Do the Right Things by Lee Kravitz: Tuesdays with Morrie meets Eat, Pray, Love in this inspiring memoir of one man’s midlife journey to attend to the loose ends in his life, and the unexpected rewards that follow.
What is Left the Daughter by Howard Norman: A teenager moves in with his aunt, uncle and ravishing cousin after his parents commit suicide just hours apart following separate encounters with a neighbor.

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

The Best of Times by Penny Vincenzi:
Penny Vincenzi delivers another brilliantly crafted page-turner centered on one devastating moment that will change lives forever.
Border Songs by Jim Lynch: By the acclaimed author of The Highest Tide, a novel about a distinctive community straddling the largely invisible boundary between Washington state and British Columbia.
Good Things I Wish You by A. Manette Ansay: The acclaimed author of Vinegar Hill returns with a story of two unlikely romances --- one historical, the other modern-day --- separated by thousands of miles and well over a century.
In the Heart of the Canyon by Elisabeth Hyde: From the author of The Abortionist's Daughter comes a gripping novel about a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon that changes the lives of everyone on board.
Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea: Filled with unforgettable characters and prose as radiant as the Sinaloan sun, Into the Beautiful North is the story of an irresistible young woman's quest to find herself on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Night Counter by Alia Yunis: Shifting between the U.S. and the Middle East, first-time novelist Alia Yunis pieces together four generations of family secrets in this hilarious, heartwarming debut that creates a vibrant mosaic of modern Arab American life.
Secrets to Happiness by Sarah Dunn: Secrets to Happiness is a big-hearted, knife-sharp, and hilariously entertaining story about the perils of love and friendship, sex and betrayal --- and a thoroughly modern take on our struggle to be happy.
Swimming by Nicola Keegan: A spectacular debut about the rise of an Olympic champion --- a
novel about competition, the hunger for victory, and a young girl with an unsinkable spirit.

The following guides are now available for Christian book groups:

Broken by Travis Thrasher: Laila was living a charmed life as part of Chicago’s social elite until some bad decisions put her on the streets, and in the center of a murder investigation.
Fatal Loyalty by Sue Duffy: The daughter of a prominent political activist tries to escape his large shadow, but just as her life returns to normal, an old foe reappears.
Finding Jeena by Miralee Ferrell: Jeena Gregory thinks she has it all after landing her dream job until persistent rumors cast her new employer in an unfavorable light, followed by a mysterious disappearance.
The Homecoming by Dan Walsh: A war veteran is invited on a USO tour but would prefer to spend time at home, especially after meeting his son’s new nanny.
A Love of Her Own: Heart of the West, Book 3 by Maggie Brendan: April McBride heads to the untamed wilds of the Montana frontier for a wedding, only to find her own love in the rough-and-tumble crowd.
Refuge on Crescent Hill by Melanie Dobson: A new page-turning novel from an award-winning author Melanie Dobson is packed with a fast-paced plot that skillfully weaves together history and suspense.

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.

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Carol Fitzgerald ([email protected])

The Book Report Network
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