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August 2010 Newsletter August 2010
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Back On the Ground

After being here, there and everywhere for the last few weeks, it’s nice to be back home. I walk the aisles on airplanes as I cross the country and look at what people are reading all the time. I saw some eReaders, but not as many as I was thinking I would, considering the constant conversation about these devices. I sat next to a lovely woman on the flight back from Orlando on Saturday. In the course of chatting, we realized we had grown up three blocks from each other! Pretty funny. She was a year older than me, but we had a lot of shared memories. When we were talking books, she mentioned a few that she had read. I asked if she had read The Help. She told me she had not heard of it. Interesting moment for me, who is surrounded by books and authors all day, and thinks that everyone knows about The Help. Of course, on the flight down to Orlando, I sat with a woman who had ME pulling out a pen and paper to take notes on the books that SHE was talking about. Bookish conversation…such fun. And informative. By the way, on our sister site,, we have a poll question asking about at what price point you would consider an eReader. You can chime in here.

Our 10th Anniversary Contest is entering its final weeks! All summer long we’ve celebrated our 10th birthday by asking you to share your book group’s top 10 titles. Have you entered yet? If not, the clock really is ticking. Have you seen the countdown clock on the site? Want to get your entry in? Then fill out this form. When the contest ends on Tuesday, August 31st, we’ll begin to compile the definitive Top 10 Favorite Discussion Books, which will be presented this fall. By adding your 10 selections, you could win one of our 50 $200 gift cards. The gift cards can be to the bookstore of your choice to help purchase about a month’s worth of books, or you can donate your gift to a local library, school or charitable organization of your choice. Having each member enter increases your group's chances, so what are you waiting for? Consider this your last call! Click here for more details.

Another group celebrating an anniversary is Penguin, one of the world’s leading book publishers. All summer long, Penguin has celebrated in style with its custom Mini-Cooper featuring (what else?) the trademark Penguin orange paint job. The Mini has been zigzagging around the country with some famous Penguin authors behind the wheel and celebrating at area bookstores. Also, along the way, Penguin has donated 75 of its iconic titles to a library or literacy group at each location. You can check out the list of titles that they shared here and all of Penguin’s celebrations here. Our friends at Penguin shared some road trip photos with us, including T.C. Boyle at the wheel in California (top left), Sue Monk Kidd and her daughter Ann Kidd Taylor in South Carolina (top right), and a lucky young reader who got to pose as the Penguin mascot with the Mini (insert). Congratulations to Penguin, its talented staff and authors, and all the friends I’ve made there over the years. And if you have seen the Penguin Mini-Cooper on the road or at an event, let us know about it!

One of those iconic titles is Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love, and, of course, I wouldn’t dare send this newsletter without mentioning the film release starring Julia Roberts and premiering nationwide on August 13th. Elizabeth’s memoir about traveling to find herself and happiness has been one of the biggest books of the past few years and definitely one of our most highly requested guides. This book has had such an impact on women of all ages, and always stirs up conversation. At the office we were able to score some tickets to a screening, and the staff here is looking forward to this! You can visit the movie’s official website here. We look forward to hearing what you have to say about it.

Eat Pray Love is also our monthly newsletter contest book, and you could win 20 copies of the movie tie-in edition to share with your group just by subscribing to the newsletter. Pass this link along to friends to get them signed up and increase your group’s chances of being the lucky winners. All the Eat Pray Love hoopla has inspired our latest poll question, asking: “Does your book club ever take a group trip to see a movie that is based on a book?” You can answer here.

If your group regularly does do this or is maybe considering it for the first time, feel free to share your experiences with our Contributing Editor Dana Barrett, who oversees our blog, by emailing her here. If you have any stories, good or bad, about a group field trip to the movies, or if your group has any tips such as discount tickets, renting a theater and so on, please share and we’ll consider it for the blog.

We also have a wonderful interview with Glenda Shaw, whose book club is comprised of members of the national Alpha Chi Omega sorority in California’s San Fernando Valley. Glenda shares the group’s all-time favorite read, as well as some of their “themed” meetings over the years. If you would like to talk about your book club, please answer the questions that can be found here. To read past book group interviews, click here. We also have interview questions for booksellers and librarians, and would love to hear from you both!

This month we’re hosting two contests where you can win a paperback copy of one of our featured titles. Our first contest is for Jane Porter’s new novel, She’s Gone Country, which will be in stores August 23rd. We’ve featured some of Jane’s titles in the past, including Mrs. Perfect, The Frog Prince and Flirting with Forty, so it’s a pleasure to share her latest with you. She’s Gone Country is about a former New York City cover model whose marriage to her photographer husband crumbles, leading her back to her Texas roots. She now has to adjust to life on the family ranch with her devoutly religious mother, her overprotective brothers, her moody teenage sons and a former flame from her past. Jane’s books are both fun reading and great conversation drivers. We have 20 copies to give away to readers, who may enter here by Wednesday, September 8th at noon ET.

Our second contest is for English author Jim Powell’s debut, The Breaking of Eggs, which some of you may recall was a featured title in our summer Beach Bag of Books promotion on a few weeks ago. The Breaking of Eggs is about a former European political activist who wrote a regular travel guide series to the Eastern bloc countries. As the Soviet Union collapses, an American publisher offers to buy his life’s works, thus forcing him to travel to America, a place he’s always despised. This one has been gathering a lot of attention throughout the summer, and we have 25 copies to give away to readers. Enter here by Wednesday, September 8th at noon ET for your chance to win. You can also check out our Beach Bag of Books feature here, and enter to win our latest featured title, along with a stocked beach bag, here.

One contest happening on that may be of interest to you is our Sneak Peek: An Early Look at an Upcoming Book feature. This is a special contest in which we select readers to receive a specially formatted manuscript of a title not due in stores for several months. We know how serious readers champion books they love, and we’re excited to offer this exclusive opportunity. We hosted this contest for Still Missing, author Chevy Stevens’s excellent debut, last fall and were thrilled to see it debut on the New York Times bestseller list at No. 19 a couple weeks ago and hold that spot. And you may recall our librarian friends Sonja, Liz and Robin talked about it here not too long ago on the blog.

Right as Still Missing became a hit, the perfect book for our second Sneak Peek contest arrived on my desk. It’s called The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino, a Japanese author who is Asia’s equivalent to Stephen King. Keigo is huge in Asia, winning many literary prizes, selling millions of books and having several of his books turned into blockbuster movies. For whatever reason, he’s never quite received any attention outside of Asia until now. The Devotion of Suspect X, which will be in stores in February, will be his first major U.S. release. We have 50 copies of this VERY early manuscript to give away to readers who enter here by Friday, August 6th at noon ET and answer a couple questions. As the feedback part of this contest is essential, we ask that you only sign up to participate if you will be able to give your comments on this book by early September. We want to hear from all 50 of our winners!

You’re probably wondering what this mysterious–sounding book is all about. It begins with a single mother trying to make ends meet and support her daughter. The mother and daughter commit a violent crime in the heat of the moment, and are ready to turn themselves in until their quiet math teacher neighbor offers his assistance. As the investigation goes on, the mother and daughter realize this strange neighbor might not be helping much at all. This is truly an original literary thriller with a huge twist at the end. Our copy has circulated the office, with people devouring it in just a couple days, then meeting privately to discuss it as to not ruin it for those on the wait list.

Well, that's all for this month. Hope you're able to beat the heat and, more importantly, the humidity (ugh) during these final weeks of summer. I am off to the Outer Banks the week before Labor Day, looking forward to some days of R&R; that is reading and more reading. Already assembling a stack of books I cannot wait to read. May you find time to do the same.

Carol Fitzgerald ([email protected])

Special Contest: Win a Copy of SHE'S GONE COUNTRY by Jane Porter for Your Group

We are celebrating the release of She’s Gone Country by Jane Porter --- the latest from the bestselling, award-winning author of Flirting with Forty about a former top model returning to her Texas roots --- with a special contest. 20 readers will have the opportunity to each win one copy of the book, which will be in stores on August 23rd, for their group. The deadline for entries is Wednesday, September 8th at noon ET.

More about She’s Gone Country:
Shey Darcy, a 39-year-old former top model for Vogue and Sports Illustrated, led a charmed life in New York City with a handsome photographer husband until the day he announced he'd fallen in love with someone else. Left to pick up the pieces of her once happy world, Shey decides to move back home to Texas with her three teenage sons. Life on the family ranch, however, brings with it a whole new host of dramas starting with differences of opinion with her staunch Southern Baptist mother, her rugged but overprotective brothers, and daily battles with her three sons who are also trying to find themselves.

-Click here for the reading group guide.

Click here to read all the contest details.

Special Contest: Win a Paperback Copy of THE BREAKING OF EGGS by Jim Powell for Your Group
We are celebrating the paperback release of The Breaking of Eggs by Jim Powell --- a witty debut about an aging travel writer desperately searching for a place he can call home --- with a special contest. 50 readers will have the opportunity to each win one paperback copy of the book, which is now in stores, for their group. The deadline for entries is Wednesday, September 8th at noon ET.

More about The Breaking of Eggs:
Sixty-one-year-old Feliks is a naturalized Frenchman, a displaced Pole and former Communist --- and a curmudgeon --- who has made his living writing a yearly travel guide to the countries behind the Iron Curtain. In 1991, with the Curtain now fallen, Feliks finds his beliefs beginning to crumble around him. When a rapacious American publisher offers to buy out his life's work, Feliks must travel to the country he has long despised, and so begins the wry and moving tale of a man who awakens from self-imposed isolation into a changed world he must get to know all over again. So unfolds a story of family, war, politics, a second chance at love, and one man's quest for himself.

-Click here to read more about The Breaking of Eggs.
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.

MY HOLLYWOOD by Mona Simpson
My Hollywood is a wonderfully provocative novel from the much-loved author of Anywhere But Here and A Regular Guy, her first in 10 years. It tells the story of two women whose lives entwine and unfold behind the glittery surface of Hollywood. In a novel at turns satirical and heartbreaking, where mothers’ modern ideas are given practical overhauls by nannies, we meet a vast network of fellow caregivers, each with her own story to tell.


Click here to read the guide for My Hollywood.

LEAVING BEFORE IT'S OVER by Jean Reynolds Page
A deeply compelling novel that explores the true meaning of family, Leaving Before It’s Over is masterful and provocative fiction from Jean Reynolds Page, the author of The Space Between Before and After and The Last Summer of Her Other Life. Fans of Jodi Picoult and Jacquelyn Mitchard will be moved and enthralled by Page’s Leaving Before It’s Over, as a 1970s family is thrown into turmoil when a previously unknown son and brother is brought into the fold.
Click here to read the guide for Leaving Before It's Over.

POISON: A Novel of the Renaissance, by Sara Poole
In the simmering hot summer of 1492, a monstrous evil is stirring within the Eternal City of Rome. The brutal murder of an alchemist sets off a desperate race to uncover the plot that threatens to extinguish the light of the Renaissance and plunge Europe back into medieval darkness. Navigating a web of treachery and deceit, Francesca pursues her father’s killer from the depths of Rome’s Jewish ghetto to the heights of the Vatican itself. In so doing, she sets the stage for the ultimate confrontation with ancient forces that will seek to use her darkest desires to achieve their own catastrophic ends.
Click here to read the guide for Poison.

THE UNEXPECTED SON by Shobhan Bantwal

What happens when a woman who's realized her dreams wakes up to a shocking truth? Shobhan Bantwal's poignant new novel weaves a captivating tale of one woman's return to India: the place where she lost everything --- and now has everything to gain. Once upon a time, a naïve young college girl fell for a wealthy boy whose primary interests were cricket and womanizing. Vinita knew, even then, that a secret affair with a man whose language and values were different from her own was a mistake. He finished with her soon enough --- leaving her to birth a baby that was stillborn. Or so Vinita was told...


Click here to read the guide for The Unexpected Son.



Two years and 170 pounds ago, Stevie Barrett was wheeled into an operating room for surgery that most likely saved her life. Since that day, a new Stevie has emerged, one who walks without wheezing, plants a garden for self-therapy, and builds and paints fantastical wooden chairs. At 35, Stevie is the one thing she never thought she'd be: thin.
Click here to read the guide for Such a Pretty Face.

HIS LAST LETTER: Elizabeth I and the Earl of Leicester, by Jeane Westin
One of the greatest loves of all time --- between Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley --- comes to life in this vivid novel. They were playmates as children, impetuous lovers as adults and for 30 years were the center of each others' lives. Possessive and jealous, their love survived quarrels, his two disastrous marriages to other women, her constant flirtations, and political machinations with foreign princes. His Last Letter tells the story of this great love...and all that would remain unfulfilled.
Click here to read the guide for His Last Letter.

Balthazar Jones has lived in the Tower of London with his loving wife, Hebe, and his 120-year-old pet tortoise for the past eight years. That’s right; he is a Beefeater (they really do live there). When Balthazar is tasked with setting up an elaborate menagerie within the Tower walls to house the many exotic animals gifted to the Queen, life at the Tower gets all the more interest­ing, resulting in Hebe leaving him and his beloved tortoise “runs” away. The Tower, The Zoo, and the Tortoise is a quirky, original and transportative love story with an unforgettable cast of characters --- human and beast alike!
Click here to read the guide for The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise.


Ten years ago, Ruby Leander was a scared, runaway 19-year-old who found a baby in an Oklahoma rest stop trash can. Overwhelmed by memories of her own abandonment years earlier, she made a split-second decision to put the baby in her car and keep driving. Then, when Ruby reads a magazine article about an infant kidnapped by car-jackers, the lie that she created about Lark's origins is shattered. Ruby never dreamed that she had done anything wrong by rescuing an abandoned infant, but now she is forced to make a decision that will change her life, and Lark’s, forever.


Click here to read the guide for Mothers and Other Liars.

DRACULA, MY LOVE: The Secret Journals of Mina Harker, by Syrie James

Acclaimed author Syrie James approaches Bram Stoker's classic Dracula with a breathtaking new perspective --- as, for the first time, Mina Harker records the shocking story of her scandalous seduction by Count Dracula. Struggling to hang on to the pure love she's found with her husband, Jonathan, she is inexorably drawn into a secret, passionate affair with a charismatic but dangerous lover.



Click here to read the guide for Dracula, My Love.

WHAT WE HAVE: A Family's Inspiring Story About Love, Loss, and Survival, by Amy Boesky

Amy Boesky thought she had it all figured out: a wonderful new man in her life, a great job, and the (nearly) perfect home. For once, she was almost able to shake the terrible fear that had gripped her for so long. Women in her family had always died young --- from cancer --- and she and her sisters had grown up in time's shadow. But Amy didn't want to dwell on that now. She wanted to plan for a new baby, live her life. And with the appreciation for life's smallest pleasures, she did just that.

Click here to read the guide for What We Have.

New Guides Now Available

Dracula, My Love: The Secret Journals of Mina Harker by Syrie James: For the first time, Bram Stoker’s classic Dracula as told from the perspective of its female protagonist.
Exit by Liliana Badd: Exit is a compelling story about passion, life, death and the mystery of a woman’s heart with an unexpected twist at the end.
His Last Letter: Elizabeth I and the Earl of Leicester by Jeane Westin: A fictionalized account of the on-and-off courtship between two of Britain’s most famous royals.
The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver: Beloved bestselling author Barbara Kingsolver returns with perhaps her most ambitious work yet: a sprawling historical epic of art, war and politics featuring some of America’s most influential figures.
Leaving Before It’s Over by Jean Reynolds Page: A searing family saga from the author of The Space Between Before and After hinges on the uneasy relationship between estranged brothers.
Mothers and Other Liars by Amy Bourret: Ruby leads an idyllic life with her daughter, Lark, in New Mexico until Lark stumbles upon a magazine article that shatters their lives.
My Hollywood by Mona Simpson: An L.A. housewife forms an unlikely bond with her Filipino nanny, and both receive an education in family, class, culture and friendship.
The Pleasure Seekers by Tishani Doshi: A captivating story of love across cultures, and the meaning of raising a hybrid family between England and India.
Poison: A Novel of the Renaissance by Sara Poole: A young woman versed in poisons becomes entangled in a treacherous web of romance, violence and politics in Renaissance-era Rome.
She’s Gone Country by Jane Porter: A former model returns to her Texas roots after her glamorous New York City life crumbles, and leaves her searching for perspective.

Snakewoman of Little Egypt by Robert Hellenga: A winning new novel from the bestselling author of The Sixteen Pleasures --- whose engaging, emotionally true characters could be right at home in the pages of Alice Munro or Bobbie Ann Mason.
Such a Pretty Face by Cathy Lamb: An overweight woman undergoes a radical weight loss thinking it will change her fortunes in friendship and love, but still struggles to find both.
The Tower, The Zoo, and The Tortoise by Julia Stuart: A Beefeater is tasked with managing a zoo within the Tower of London, complicating his marriage in this quirky love story.
Under This Unbroken Sky by Shandi Mitchell: A Ukranian family immigrates to Canada and struggles to keep their farm afloat in the face of bigotry and the elements.
The Unexpected Son by Shobhan Bantwal: A New Jersey housewife receives a startling letter from her native India, setting in motion a series of grueling decisions.
What We Have: A Family’s Inspiring Story About Love, Loss, and Survival by Amy Boesky: In her emotional memoir, Amy Boesky recounts her decision to forego treatment to possibly cure family medical issues in hopes of leading a normal, happy life on her own terms.
You Have Given Me a Country: A Memoir by Neela Vaswani: Vaswani recounts her upbringing as the child of an Irish-Catholic mother and Sindhi-Indian father as the family moved from country to country.

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

How to Buy a Love of Reading by Tanya Egan Gibson: A young woman concocts a scheme to pen a novel in hopes of gaining the attentions of her town's resident bibliofile.
Labor Day by Joyce Maynard: A man reflects on a fateful day during his teenage years when love, passion, adolescence and betrayal collided, leaving him irrevocably scarred.
A Quiet Belief in Angels by R.J. Ellory: A young man fails in his attempts to become his town's vigilante during a murderer's rampage through his rural Georgia home.

The following guides are now available for Christian book groups:

Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz: This sweeping tale of romance and forgiveness will envelop readers as it takes them from a Kentucky fort through the vast wilderness to the west in search of true love for Morrow Little.
Ransomed Dreams: Side Roads, Book 1 by Sally John: A diplomat’s wife returns to Chicago after living abroad, and now must confront the tangled life she left behind as well as her father’s vast estate.
The Seeker by Ann H. Gabhart: Gabhart brings alive the strikingly different worlds of the Southern gentry, the simple Shakers, and the ravages of war to weave a touching story of love, freedom and forgiveness that will stick with readers.

Do you like what you see here, and want to forward it to a friend? Then click our link on the bottom of the page to do just that!

Happy reading. We'll see you next month.

Don't forget to visit our other websites from,,,,, and

Carol Fitzgerald ([email protected])

The Book Report Network
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