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February 2011 Newsletter February 2011
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Reading My Way Through Winter

My office in New York has a window that gets marvelous sunlight from about noon until 2:00 during the months of January and February. It gets warm and feels like I am on the beach. At least that happens the days that the sun actually shines, which were few and far between since the beginning of the year. I get energized by this bright light and thus soooo welcome it. In its absence I have been reading my way through the winter to give me an extra boost.

The cocooning that happens during winter is quite lovely for reading. Invitations seem to die off after the holidays, and there are no outside chores to distract me, thus my winter combo goes something like books, knitting and stoking the fire. At the present time I have no travel plans for February or March, which is quite astonishing, so I have stashed my suitcase and instead have been relishing perusing my bookshelves leisurely and enjoying books that I can consume in a day because nothing else is grabbing my time. It's just lovely.

This month we have two special contests for readers. First there are 15 copies of Under the Mercy Trees by Heather Newton for readers to win. This is a great pick for fans of Southern fiction as Martin Owenby, a New Yorker, finally has to face his troubled past in the small North Carolina town he thought he had left for good. While he helps police investigate the strange disappearance of his brother, Martin also confronts the girl who broke his heart and the family that never quite understood him. Enter here by Wednesday, March 2nd at noon ET for your chance to win a copy. Under the Mercy Trees is out now, and Heather just contributed a piece to the Blog earlier this week. Check it out here.

Our second contest is for Ellen Airgood’s South of Superior, which will be in stores June 9th. We have 100 advance copies to give away to readers who enter here by Wednesday, March 2nd at noon ET. Tired of the corporate grind, Madeline Stone relocates to the peaceful shores of Lake Superior where she becomes a caretaker for two sisters in their 80s. Soon enough, Madeline finds herself at the center of the small town’s dramas whether she likes it or not. Fans of Richard Russo and Pat Conroy will want to check this one out.

Another title to get on your radar is French Lessons by Ellen Sussman, which is currently our Sneak Peek: Early Look at an Upcoming Book selection. It won’t be in stores until July 12th, and will be a nice tie-in to Bastille Day. I had the pleasure of reading it last Sunday and loved how the stories wound together; it’s just a treat of a book. It’s about three strangers whose lives intersect during a day in Paris. The writing is lovely, and I felt like I was living a Parisian lifestyle vicariously. We have 25 advance reader editions to give away to readers, so if you are interested, hustle over now to get entered to win by answering some questions about your reading habits here by this Friday, February 11th at noon ET. Please note that we ask you to enter this drawing ONLY if you’re able to provide some feedback by Monday, March 7th. Oh, and French Lessons will be released in trade paperback, so for all the groups who love to read paperbacks, you'll want to note it! What better way to enjoy a book about France than with a nice bottle of wine and some cheese and a lovely discussion with your group?

We have a huge update this month featuring some truly great titles. We’ve added guides for The Postmistress by Sarah Blake, which was one of my Bets On picks last year. We also have the guide for Think Twice by Lisa Scottoline. Whether Lisa is writing a suspense novel or her hilarious essays, she always delivers. Both are now available in paperback and will be big reading group selections throughout the year.

We're featuring These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf, who is an author you should keep an eye on. She really impressed me two years ago with The Weight of Silence, which was one of my first Bets On picks, so I was eager to read her latest. I enjoyed These Things Hidden just as much and think its issues of family, pregnancy and starting over could really give way to some interesting discussions. Heather also wrote a piece about the bonds of sisters for the Blog, which you can check out here. She also makes some great sister-themed book suggestions. What fun to see Beverly Cleary next to Jane Smiley!

We're also featuring The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine, which was one of the breakout books of last summer. Cathleen crafts a novel with tones of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility as a woman and her two daughters take refuge in a beach town to reevaluate their crumbling lives. We have 20 copies for one lucky newsletter subscriber. Please pass along this link to a friend or two who you think will enjoy our monthly mailing, and they will be entered, too. Also, be sure to answer this month’s poll question asking “How does your book group plan its selections?” I’m also curious if groups plan for the year or just take things month by month.

We have THREE Registered Book Club opportunities currently available. Groups who have registered with us by Tuesday, February 15th have the chance to win an author chat and/or free books. Be sure to register here if you have not done so already.

For the first offer there's an opportunity coming up this month to win an author chat with Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife. I am WILD about this book. I read it during the summer and have been eagerly awaiting its February 22nd release, and now it’s so close! Paula re-imagines Paris during the Jazz Age as she tells the story of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson. There’s a beautiful yet turbulent love story here, along with some wonderful, rich descriptions of Paris and “the scene” at that time. If your group enjoyed Loving Frank by Nancy Horan, you’ll want to schedule The Paris Wife. And I got to meet Paula last month in San Diego and will assure you that your group's conversation with her will be a delight.

Five groups can also win an author chat with Christina Meldrum, author of Amaryllis in Blueberry, about a Michigan family that embarks on missionary work in West Africa. While in Africa, the family finds itself at the center of a scandal and the ensuing trial. There’s a lot of raw emotion here that deals with the after-effects of slavery and poverty, even after all these years. Christina also donates her time to regions in West Africa, so the sense of place is very strong. We featured a great interview with her recently on the blog here.

And we have copies of The Amish Midwife by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould for 15 groups to win. This one is about a woman who’s trying to piece together her heritage, a quest that takes her across the country to Amish country in Pennsylvania. I’m always fascinated by the Amish lifestyle and the different perspectives authors take with it. Register your group here to be entered into these three special contests.

As always, our Blog will be updating throughout the week. I want to take the time to thank Dana Barrett for all her work with the blog over the past year as our Contributing Editor. She did a terrific job of coordinating pieces and sharing her own book club insights. She will continue to contribute some pieces from time to time, and she was instrumental in coordinating a piece from book group favorite Susan Vreeland, author of such bestsellers as Luncheon of the Boating Party and Girl in Hyacinth Blue. Susan’s latest, Clara and Mr. Tiffany, is about the famous Tiffany’s lamp, and you can read her blog piece about her research methods and inspirations here. Blog posts will now be handled by Stephen Bedford, who works with me on, so if you have an idea for a piece, please write him at [email protected].

I am currently reading Minding Ben by Victoria Brown, which is about a woman who moves to New York from Trinidad and becomes the nanny to a little boy who is adorable and sweet. His mother is a horror and treats Grace like her personal slave while her husband empowers her by not stopping this treatment. The book equally tells Grace’s personal story and that of her with this family. We had Gillian, a wonderful woman from Trinidad as a nanny with our family when my older son was young, and thus reading this reminds me of her stories of “back home” and her weekends back to Brooklyn with family. It’s in stores on April 12th.

I also read Exposure by Therese Fowler, which will be in stores on May 3rd. It takes on the theme of sex-texting. A teen is caught doing this with his girlfriend, and the consequences are huge as the U.S. has laws on its books that make this a very grievous offense. In the afterword, Therese talks about how this book began when her own son came home one day and told her that he was being arrested for sexting. While this is not his story, it’s very clear that she understood the emotions that roll over a family when something like this happens. Lots to think about here, including the perils of the freedoms afforded by our digital age as well as the interpretations of arcane laws that can shed very different light on actions that happen virtually between two people today.

Next up for me will be Eleanor Brown’s debut novel, The Weird Sisters, which has been getting a lot of notice. We hosted a contest for this one back in the fall, giving away 100 advance reader copies. Love to see that word of mouth work its magic! This sister story has a Shakespearean twist as three sisters --- all named after famous characters from the Bard --- try to figure out where their lives went wrong as they care for their ailing mother. I grabbed a copy from the office, and it’s next up. Norah Piehl adds another strong review here on, saying, “The Weird Sisters is both a loving portrait of a family of inveterate readers and a complicated inquiry into the nature of fate and the bonds of family.” There's also an interview with Eleanor available here.

Most of you may have noticed that we've extended the deadline of our "Share Your 2010 Picks" contest. We received way too many comments that the weather everywhere was turning schedules upside down. Since book groups and store visits were delayed, we decided to extend the contest until Monday, February 21st. All you have to do is share your group's selections from 2010 and you might be randomly chosen to win a collection of these titles here. Click here to enter.

One last thing. Last month we asked about how many members of your group are reading on eReaders. The results were overwhelming. More than 75 percent of your groups are hardly using eReaders. Of the more than 400 votes we received, 325 of them were cast as 25 percent of the group or less. As I mentioned before, this month’s poll asks when your group plans their selections. And if you are into polls, our latest poll asks "What best describes your ONLINE book purchases in January?" You can vote here!

And one last request. I got an iPad as a present from a friend for my birthday. I have some questions for those with iPads; thus if you own an iPad and have time to answer some questions in email later this week, shoot me a note here if you'd like to share your thoughts about it, and I will send some questions. If you have been in touch already, thank you!

Whew….lots of reading. Take that cold, gray gloomy days! Here’s wishing you a lovely February. Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us, and congratulations to all our Wisconsin readers on the Packers' Super Bowl win!

Carol Fitzgerald ([email protected])

Click here to share your group's 2010 year-end selections.

Special Contest: Win a Copy of UNDER THE MERCY TREES by Heather Newton

We are celebrating the release of Under the Mercy Trees by Heather Newton --- a beautifully rendered, heartbreaking first novel that heralds the arrival of an exciting new voice in Southern fiction --- with a special contest. 15 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, March 2nd at noon ET.

More about Under the Mercy Trees:
Thirty years ago, Martin Owenby came to New York City with dreams of becoming a writer. Now his existence revolves around cheap Scotch and weekend flings with equally damaged men. When he learns that his older brother, Leon, has gone missing, he must return to the Owenby farm in Solace Fork, North Carolina, to assist in the search. But that means facing a past filled with regrets, the family that never understood him, the girl whose heart he broke, and the best friend who has faithfully kept the home fires burning. As the mystery surrounding Leon's disappearance deepens, so too does the weight of decades-long unresolved differences and unspoken feelings --- forcing Martin to deal with the hardest lessons about home, duty and love.

-Click here for the reading group guide.

Click here to read all the contest details.

Special Contest: Win an Advance Copy of SOUTH OF SUPERIOR by Ellen Airgood for Your Group

We are celebrating the forthcoming release of South of Superior by Ellen Airgood --- a debut novel full of heart, in which love, friendship and charity teach a young woman to live a bigger life --- with a special contest. 100 readers will have the opportunity to each win one advance copy of the book, which will be in stores June 9th, for their group. The deadline for entries is Wednesday, March 2nd at noon ET.

More about South of Superior:
When Madeline Stone walks away from her Chicago life and moves 500 miles north to the coast of Lake Superior, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, she isn’t prepared for how much her life will change. Charged with caring for an aging family friend, Madeline finds herself in the middle of beautiful nowhere with Gladys and Artubus, two octogenarian sisters --- one sharp and stubborn, the other sweeter than sunshine. As she is drawn into the dramas of the small, tight-knit town, Madeline learns that it’s a place where times are tough and debts run deep, but where friendship, community and compassion run deeper.

-Click here for the reading group guide.

Click here to read all the contest details.

Now Available in Paperback: THE POSTMISTRESS by Sarah Blake

In 1940, Iris James is the postmistress in coastal Franklin, Massachusetts. Iris knows more about the townspeople than she will ever say, and believes her job is to deliver secrets. Yet one day she does the unthinkable: slips a letter into her pocket, reads it, and doesn't deliver it. Meanwhile, Frankie Bard broadcasts from overseas with Edward R. Murrow. Her dispatches beg listeners to pay heed as the Nazis bomb London nightly. Most of the townspeople of Franklin think the war can't touch them. But both Iris and Frankie know better. The Postmistress is a tale of two worlds --- one shattered by violence, the other willfully naïve --- and of two women whose job is to deliver the news, yet who find themselves unable to do so.

Click here to read the guide for The Postmistress.

Now Available in Paperback: THINK TWICE by Lisa Scottoline

Bennie Rosato looks exactly like her identical twin, Alice Connelly, but the darkness in Alice’s soul makes them two very different women. Or at least that’s what Bennie believes --- until she finds herself buried alive at the hands of her twin. Meanwhile, Alice takes over Bennie’s life, impersonating her at work and even seducing her boyfriend in order to escape the deadly mess she has made of her own life. But Alice underestimates Bennie and the evil she has unleashed in her twin’s psyche. Soon Bennie, in her determination to stay alive long enough to exact revenge, must face the twisted truth that she is more like Alice than she could have ever imagined. And by the novel’s shocking conclusion, Bennie finds herself engaged in a war she cannot win --- with herself.

Click here to read the guide for Think Twice.

Now Available in Paperback: THE THREE WEISSMANNS OF WESTPORT by Cathleen Schine

Betty Weissmann has just been dumped by her husband of 48 years. Exiled from her elegant New York apartment by her husband’s mistress, she and her two middle-aged daughters, Miranda and Annie, regroup in a run-down Westport, Connecticut, beach cottage. In Schine’s playful and devoted homage to Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, the impulsive sister is Miranda, a literary agent entangled in a series of scandals, and the more pragmatic sister is Annie, a library director, who feels compelled to move in and watch over her capricious mother and sister.

Click here to read the guide for The Three Weissmanns of Westport.

I THINK I LOVE YOU by Allison Pearson

The new novel from the bestselling author of I Don’t Know How She Does It takes us on an unforgettable journey into first love, and --- with the emotional intensity and penetrating wit that has made her beloved among readers all over the world --- reminds us of how the ardor of our youth can ignite our adult lives. Funny, moving, full of beautiful observations about the awakenings of youth and middle age, Allison Pearson’s long-awaited new novel will speak across generations to mothers and daughters and women of all ages.

Click here to read the guide for I Think I Love You.

SWAMPLANDIA! by Karen Russell

From the celebrated 29-year-old author of the everywhere-heralded short-story collection St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves comes a blazingly original debut novel that takes us back to the swamps of the Florida Everglades, and introduces us to Ava Bigtree, an unforgettable young heroine. The Bigtree alligator-wrestling dynasty is in decline, and Swamplandia!, their island home and gator-wrestling theme park, formerly No. 1 in the region, is swiftly being encroached upon by a fearsome and sophisticated competitor called the World of Darkness. Against a backdrop of hauntingly fecund plant life animated by ancient lizards and lawless hungers, Karen Russell has written an utterly singular novel about a family’s struggle to stay afloat in a world that is inexorably sinking.

Click here to read the guide for Swamplandia!


THESE THINGS HIDDEN by Heather Gudenkauf

When Allison Glenn is sent to prison for a heinous crime, she leaves behind her reputation as Linden Falls' golden girl forever. Her parents deny the existence of their once-perfect child. Her former friends exult in her downfall. Her sister, Brynn, faces the whispered rumors every day in the hallways of their small Iowa high school. It's Brynn --- shy, quiet Brynn --- who carries the burden of what really happened that night. All she wants is to forget Allison and the past that haunts her. But then Allison is released, and is more determined than ever to speak with her sister. Now their legacy of secrets is focused on one little boy. And if the truth is revealed, the consequences will be unimaginable for the adoptive mother who loves him, the girl who tried to protect him and the two sisters who hold the key to all that is hidden.

Click here to read the guide for These Things Hidden.


On a small island in a glacier-fed lake on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula, a marriage is unraveling. Gary, driven by 30 years of diverted plans, and Irene, haunted by a tragedy in her past, are trying to rebuild their life together. Following the outline of Gary's old dream, they're hauling logs to Caribou Island in good weather and in terrible storms, in sickness and in health, to build the kind of cabin that drew them to Alaska in the first place. Brilliantly drawn and fiercely honest, Caribou Island captures the drama and pathos of a husband and wife whose bitter love, failed dreams, and tragic past push them to the edge of destruction.

Click here to read the guide for Caribou Island.

THE ORACLE OF STAMBOUL by Michael David Lukas
Raised by her doting father, Yakob, a carpet merchant, and her stern, resentful stepmother, Ruxandra, Eleonora spends her early years daydreaming and doing housework --- until the moment she teaches herself to read, and her father recognizes that she is an extraordinarily gifted child, a prodigy. When Yakob sets off by boat for Stamboul on business, eight-year-old Eleonora, unable to bear the separation, stows away in one of his trunks. On the shores of the Bosporus, in the house of her father's business partner, Moncef Bey, a new life awaits. Books, backgammon, beautiful dresses and shoes, markets swarming with color and life --- the imperial capital overflows with elegance, and mystery. The Oracle of Stamboul is a marvelously evocative, magical historical novel that will transport readers to another time and place --- romantic, exotic, yet remarkably similar to our own.
Click here to read the guide for The Oracle of Stamboul.

DREAMING IN ENGLISH by Laura Fitzgerald

Knowing she could never be happy in Iran, Tamila Soroush took her mother's advice to “Go and wake up your luck” and joined her sister in the United States. Now, after a spur-of-the-moment exchange of “I do”s with her true love, Ike Hanson, Tami is eager to start her new life. But not everyone is pleased with their marriage, and Tami's happily-ever-after is no sure thing. With an interview with Immigration looming, Tami wonders if she's got the right stuff when it comes to love, American-style. Maybe her luck is running out. Or maybe she'll stand up for herself and claim her American dream.

Click here to read the guide for Dreaming in English.

WHEN WE WERE STRANGERS by Pamela Schoenwaldt

"If you leave Opi, you'll die with strangers," Irma Vitale's mother always warned. Even after her beloved mother's passing, 20-year-old Irma longs to stay in her Abruzzo mountain village, plying her needle. But too poor and plain to marry and subject to growing danger in her own home, she risks rough passage to America and workhouse servitude to achieve her dream of making dresses for gentlewomen. In the raw immigrant quarters and with the help of an entrepreneurial Irish serving girl, ribbon-decked Polish ragman and austere Alsatian dressmaker, Irma begins to stitch together a new life…until her peace and self are shattered in the charred remains of the Great Chicago Fire.

Click here to read the guide for When We Were Strangers.

February's Registered Book Club Promotions

For February we have three very special opportunities for Registered Book Groups. Our featured titles this month are The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, Amaryllis in Blueberry by Christina Meldrum, and The Amish Midwife by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould. Groups who have registered with us by Tuesday, February 15th have the chance to win an author chat and/or free books. If your group is not registered, click here to register.

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain --- Author Chat and Book Giveaway: Three groups will have the opportunity to chat with Paula McLain and receive up to 10 copies of the book.

More about The Paris Wife:
A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures a remarkable period of time and a love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley.

Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet 28-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness --- until she meets Ernest Hemingway and her life changes forever. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group --- the fabled “Lost Generation” --- that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. A heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn loyalty, The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.

Amaryllis in Blueberry by Christina Meldrum --- Author Chat and Book Giveaway: Five groups will have the opportunity to chat with Christina Meldrum and receive up to 10 copies of the book.

More about Amaryllis in Blueberry:
Meet the Slepys: Dick, the stern doctor, the naive husband, a man devoted to both facts and faith; Seena, the storyteller, the restless wife, a mother of four, and a lover of myth. And their children, the Marys: Mary Grace, the devastating beauty; Mary Tessa, the insistent inquisitor; Mary Catherine, the saintly, lost soul; and finally, Amaryllis, Seena’s unspoken favorite, born with the mystifying ability to sense the future, touch the past, and distinguish the truth tellers from the most convincing liar of all.

When Dick insists his family move from Michigan to the unfamiliar world of Africa for missionary work, he can’t possibly foresee how this new land and its people will entrance and change his daughters --- and himself --- forever.

The Amish Midwife by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould --- Book Giveaway: Fifteen groups will receive up to 10 copies of the book.

More about The Amish Midwife:
A dusty carved box containing two locks of hair and a century-old letter regarding property in Switzerland, and a burning desire to learn about her biological family, lead nurse-midwife Lexie Jaeger from her home in Oregon to the heart of Pennsylvania Amish country. There she meets Marta Bayer, a mysterious lay-midwife who desperately needs help after an Amish client and her baby die. Lexie steps in to assume Marta's patient load even as she continues the search for her birth family.


Click here to register your group.

New Guides Now Available

Amaryllis in Blueberry by Christina Meldrum: In the stirring tradition of The Secret Life of Bees, Amaryllis in Blueberry explores the complexity of human relationships set against an unforgettable African backdrop.
Caribou Island by David Vann: Brilliantly drawn and fiercely honest, Caribou Island captures the drama and pathos of a husband and wife whose bitter love, failed dreams, and tragic past push them to the edge of destruction.
Crossing the Heart of Africa: An Odyssey of Love and Adventure by Julian Smith: This is the unforgettable account of twin adventures, as Julian Smith beautifully interweaves his own contemporary journey with famed explorer Ewart Grogan’s larger-than-life tale of charging elephants, cannibal attacks, deadly jungles, and romantic triumph.
Dreaming in English by Laura Fitzgerald: Knowing she could never be happy in Iran, Tamila Soroush took her mother's advice to "Go and wake up your luck" and joins her sister in the United States in this sequel to Veil of Roses.
Drinking Closer to Home by Jessica Anya Blau: From the critically-acclaimed author of The Summer of Naked Swim Parties comes a new novel of California, growing up, and learning to love your insane family.
Ghost Light by Joseph O’Connor: Ghost Light is a tour de force of emotion about a playwright and his muse from the widely acclaimed and bestselling author of Star of the Sea.
I Think I Love You by Allison Pearson: This new novel from the bestselling author of I Don’t Know How She Does It takes us on an unforgettable journey into first love, and --- with the emotional intensity and penetrating wit that have made her beloved among readers all over the world --- reminds us of how the ardor of our youth can ignite our adult lives.
It’s All Relative: Two Families, Three Dogs, 34 Holidays, and 50 Boxes of Wine: A Memoir by Wade Rouse: In It’s All Relative, Wade Rouse paints a funny, sad, poignant and outlandish portrait of an all-too-typical family that will have you appreciating --- or bemoaning --- your own and shrieking in laughter.
Lonely: Learning to Live with Solitude by Emily White: Interweaving her personal story with cutting-edge scientific research --- as well as incredibly moving accounts offered by numerous lonely men and women --- Emily White provides a deep and thorough portrait of this increasingly common but too often ignored affliction.
Moonface: A True Romance by Angela Balcita: Expanded from Angela Balcita's unforgettable "Modern Love" column in the New York Times, Moonface will make readers laugh, cry and, above all, appreciate the importance of unconditional love.
The Oracle of Stamboul by Michael David Lukas: An elegantly crafted, utterly enchanting debut novel set in a mystical, exotic world, in which a gifted young girl charms a sultan and changes the course of an empire's history.
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain: Set during the period of Ernest Hemingway's most prolific time, The Paris Wife brilliantly captures the voice and heart of Hadley Hemingway as she struggles with her roles as a woman --- wife, lover, muse, friend, and mother --- and tries to find her place in the intoxicating and tumultuous world of Paris in the 1920s.
The Revenge of Radioactive Lady by Elizabeth Stuckey-French: Told from the varied perspectives of an incredible cast of endearing oddball characters and written with the flair of a native Floridian, this dark comedy does not disappoint.
Saddled: How a Spirited Horse Reined Me in and Set Me Free by Susan Richards: This is a memoir about the power of animals to carry us through the toughest times of our lives --- about the importance of constancy, the beauty of quiet, steadfast love, the way loving a good (and sometimes bad!) animal can keep you going.
Shadow Tag by Louise Erdich: In brilliantly controlled prose, Shadow Tag fearlessly explores the complex nature of love, the fluid boundaries of identity, and one family’s struggle for survival and redemption.
South of Superior by Ellen Airgood: A debut novel full of heart that shows there is a deep reward in caring for others, that one who is poor in the pocket can be rich in other ways, and that happiness often comes from the smallest gestures.
Swamplandia! by Karen Russell: Against a backdrop of hauntingly fecund plant life animated by ancient lizards and lawless hungers, Karen Russell has written an utterly singular novel about a family’s struggle to stay afloat in a world that is inexorably sinking.
These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf: A young woman tries to rebuild her life upon her release from prison, but discovers a little boy may exonerate her fully from the crimes she was convicted for.
Think Twice by Lisa Scottoline: In this heart-pounding thriller, after being buried alive by her twin sister, Bennie Rosato is determined to exact revenge.
Under the Mercy Trees by Heather Newton: The poignant and unforgettable story of a man forced to face his troubled past when he returns to his small hometown in the mountains of North Carolina following the disappearance of his brother.
Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez: An engaging, page-turning, and wholly original novel, Wench explores, with an unflinching eye, the moral complexities of slavery.
When We Were Strangers by Pamela Schoenewaldt: A rich historic tale that chronicles the tumultuous life journey of a young immigrant seamstress, as she travels from her isolated Italian mountain village through the dark corners of late 19th-century America.
Wrecker by Summer Wood: Set amid the giant trees of northern California’s magical Lost Coast, Wrecker is the story of a nearly broken boy who unexpectedly finds a family.

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

36 Arguments for the Existence of God by Rebecca Goldstein: A satirical look at religion and relationships told through the eyes of a writer deemed “the atheist with a soul.”
The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen: A lush and compelling tale of intrigue and longing, set in the 16th-century Spanish court, that asks the question: Can you ever truly know another person’s heart?
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.
The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell: A stunning portrait of motherhood and the artist's life in all their terror and glory, Maggie O'Farrell's novel is a gorgeous inquiry into the ways we make and unmake our lives.
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.
Noah’s Compass by Anne Tyler: A retired schoolteacher awakens in a hospital with no recollection of how he arrived there, and is determined to piece together those missing hours.
One Good Dog by Susan Wilson: A disgraced man recovers from an embarrassing crime with the help of a dog trying to escape the pit fighting arena.
The Postmistress by Sarah Blake: Two women --- one in London and one in Massachusetts --- consider their roles in the news media during the height of World War II.
Searching for Tina Turner by Jacqueline E. Luckett:
In this breathtaking debut novel reminiscent of early Terry McMillan, Lena Spencer is going through a mid-life crisis and looks to singer Tina Turner for strength.
The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine: Overtones of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility underscore this story of an estranged wife bonding with her children in the seaside town of Westport, MA.

The following guides are now available for Christian book groups:

The Amish Midwife: The Women of Lancaster County, Book 1 by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould: A dusty carved box containing two locks of hair and a century-old letter regarding property in Switzerland, and a burning desire to learn about her biological family, lead nurse-midwife Lexie Jaeger from her home in Oregon to the heart of Pennsylvania Amish country.
Deadly Ties by Vicki Hinze: A young mother struggles for custody of her child against her abusive ex-husband, whose connections to organized crime are worrisome to all involved in the case.
A Season of Miracles by Rusty Whitener: Little League teammates form an unlikely bond despite their different backgrounds during their quest for the league championship in 1970s suburbia.


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Happy reading. We'll see you next month.

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Carol Fitzgerald ([email protected])

The Book Report Network
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