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July 2011 Newsletter July 2011
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Great Summer Reading
When I get together with friends, one of my favorite questions is “What are you reading?” Over the holiday weekend, close neighbors came in for a barbecue. Dale shared that she now has a Kindle; she had just finished Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford and is currently reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett. She was chatting about these books with the same enthusiasm that I did when I read them when they first came out. It reminded me that readers all find books at their own pace, and good books will continue to be found long after their publication date!

We often discuss how those in book groups often have a higher rate of discovery as they hear about books from fellow book club members. Readers in the company of other readers --- one reason why book groups can make a book a huge success.

This month we're giving away 15 copies of Miss Timmins’ School for Girls by Nayana Currimbhoy. If you or your group enjoy stories set in India, or have wanted to explore that part of the world, then you will want to give this one a look. It’s about a young woman who accepts a teaching position at a prestigious all-girls school in western India. Just as she’s settling in to her new career and life, she stands accused of murder after a body is discovered not far from school grounds. Miss Timmins’ School for Girls has a great sense of time and place, and a murder mystery to solve. We have 15 copies for readers who enter here by Wednesday, August 3rd at noon ET.

Speaking of great reading, I am happy to announce three new Bets On picks on All three are great for book groups as they will trigger lots of discussion. The first is The Soldier’s Wife by Margaret Leroy, which is set on the British island of Guernsey, which many book groups now know after the success of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Vivienne de la Mare is a housewife who is living with two young daughters and her mother-in-law, while her husband is off fighting in Germany. She contemplates fleeing to London, but as she heads for the docks, she hears that the boats leaving the island are being capsized. She hunkers down, and soon the Germans arrive and take over a house next door. As time passes, she strikes up a relationship with one of the Nazi occupation soldiers in secret until one day when she realizes a choice must be made.

The story is beautifully told, and once again I found myself wanting to visit Guernsey just to see the place. You can read our review here --- and my comments on it as a Bets On selection here. Your group can win 20 copies of The Soldier’s Wife just by being subscribed to our newsletter. Read more details here, and send along our subscription link to other group members or readers whom you think would enjoy our monthly missive.

I read The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin in manuscript form nearly a year ago and promptly fell in love with it --- and since then, I have been waiting to share it with readers! It’s about a wealthy socialite from Newport who wants what all young women in the late 1800s want --- a noble title --- and they have the cash to buy one! However, Cora Cash finds that wealth, power and status all come with a price. Click here to read more of my thoughts on The American Heiress and here for our review. And if members of your group enjoyed Masterpiece Theatre’s "Downton Abbey," this is a book for you.

Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante is a haunting debut about a former surgeon suffering from dementia who is accused of murdering her best friend and neighbor. Not only is it in an engrossing mystery, it's also an honest, emotional account of someone suffering from Alzheimer’s. Click here to read more of my thoughts on Turn of Mind and here for our review.

All three of these books are different, and I would love to hear feedback from readers, so please share if your group chooses one.

If you want to check out some of my other recent reads or conference travel, please check out these past editions of the weekly newsletter:

-July 8th
-July 1st
-June 24th
-June 17th
-June 10th

Our featured group in our Book Group Spotlight takes us over to Provence, France as we interview the Anglo-American Group of Provence. The group is composed of members from American, British, Irish, Dutch and French backgrounds. It’s a perfect way to gain some insight into how book groups function in Europe, and the similarities and differences between American groups. Particularly interesting is the group’s reaction to reading The Help as many non-American members were unaware of the Civil Rights movement and rampant racism that existed in the United State at this time. The group also had an interesting perspective when it read Reading Lolita in Tehran. Click here for the full interview.

Our What to Read Next? Suggest a Book for This Group feature also returns this month. We have some great ideas for our selected groups, including some choices that might stretch you a bit outside your comfort zone and trigger some new discussions. Thanks to all who suggested books for the groups. We gather to look at your picks, and we really appreciate those who review the group’s prior selections when making suggestions. Two groups this month mentioned that their reading choices were similar to the groups that they were advising. Wonder how many matches there are out there if we were listing books that groups read? If your group would like to participate by sharing your last six selections and some background on your group, please click here.

We also are looking for suggestions for three new groups this month. To make a suggestion, please click here and tell us why you think this group would enjoy your title specifically based upon their past choices. Ideally, read their lists and try to reference a title or two that they already have read when you make your suggestions.

Also, I hope you and your group will check out the film adaptation of Lisa See’s Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. This is one of the most popular book group selections, even years after its release. The film come out on July 15th, but it's a very limited release, so please check with your local theaters to see if they will be screening it. I can’t wait to see it!

Have a great July…get outside to enjoy some reading.

Carol Fitzgerald ([email protected])

Special Contest: Win a Copy of MISS TIMMINS' SCHOOL FOR GIRLS by Nayana Currimbhoy for Your Group
We are celebrating the release of Miss Timmins’ School for Girls by Nayana Currimbhoy --- a story about a murder at a British boarding school in the hills of western India that launches a young teacher on the journey of a lifetime --- 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, August 3rd at noon ET.

More about Miss Timmins’ School for Girls:
In 1974, three weeks before her 21st birthday, Charulata Apte arrives at Miss Timmins' School for Girls in Panchgani. Shy, sheltered and running from a scandal that disgraced her Brahmin family, Charu finds herself teaching Shakespeare to rich Indian girls in a boarding school still run like an outpost of the British Empire. In this small, foreign universe, Charu is drawn to the charismatic teacher Moira Prince, who introduces her to pot-smoking hippies, rock ‘n' roll, and freedoms she never knew existed.

Then one monsoon night, a body is found at the bottom of a cliff, and the ordered worlds of school and town are thrown into chaos. When Charu is implicated in the murder --- a case three intrepid schoolgirls take it upon themselves to solve --- Charu's real education begins.

-Click here for the reading group guide.

Click here to read all the contest details.

ESCAPE by Barbara Delinsky

Emily Aulenbach is 30, a lawyer married to a lawyer, working in Manhattan. She doesn’t connect with much in her life, period, with the exception of three things --- her computer, her BlackBerry and her watch. Acting on impulse, Emily leaves work early one day, goes home, packs her bag and takes off. Groping toward the future, uncharacteristically following her gut rather than her mind, she heads north toward a New Hampshire town tucked between mountains. She knows this town. During her college years, she spent a watershed summer here. Painful as it is to return, she knows that if she is to right her life, she has to start here.

Click here to read the guide for Escape.

THE GAP YEAR by Sarah Bird
In The Gap Year, told with perfect pitch from both points of view, we meet Cam Lightsey, lactation consultant extraordinaire, a divorcée still secretly carrying a torch for the ex who dumped her, a suburban misfit who’s given up her rebel dreams so her only child can get a good education. We also learn the secrets of Aubrey Lightsey, tired of being the dutiful, grade-grubbing band geek, ready to explode from wanting her “real” life to begin, trying to figure out love with boys weaned on Internet porn. When Aubrey meets Tyler Moldenhauer, football idol-sex god with a dangerous past, the fuse is lit.
Click here to read the guide for The Gap Year.

Now Available in Paperback: A STRANGER LIKE YOU by Elizabeth Brundage

In A Stranger Like You, the border between screen fantasy and grim reality is quick to dissolve, as Hugh Waters, bent on proving his script is believable, drugs Hedda Chase, stuffs her into the trunk of her vintage BMW, and drives the car to a long-term parking lot at LAX. He leaves the keys in the ignition, the parking ticket on the dashboard, and Hedda to the whims of fate. But fate is waiting for Waters as well, and he little suspects that the forces of destiny he has set in motion will lead to strange sexual encounters, a desperate search in the California desert, and a terrible, vengeful reunion.

Click here to read the guide for A Stranger Like You.

CONQUISTADORA by Esmeralda Santiago

As a young girl growing up in Spain, Ana Larragoity Cubillas is powerfully drawn to Puerto Rico by the diaries of an ancestor who traveled there with Ponce de León. And in handsome twin brothers Ramón and Inocente --- both in love with Ana --- she finds a way to get there. She marries Ramón, and in 1844, just 18, she travels across the ocean to a remote sugar plantation the brothers have inherited on the island. Ana faces unrelenting heat, disease and isolation, and the dangers of the untamed countryside even as she relishes the challenge of running Hacienda los Gemelos. But when the Civil War breaks out in the United States, Ana finds her livelihood, and perhaps even her life, threatened by the very people on whose backs her wealth has been built: the hacienda’s slaves, whose richly drawn stories unfold alongside her own.

Click here to read the guide for Conquistadora.'s Book Group Spotlight: AAGP (Anglo-American Group of Provence)

The Book Group Spotlight Feature is designed to share a selected book group with our readers. The spotlight may focus on a group's discussion of a book or on a group that we feel is particularly interesting.

Our latest Book Group Spotlight interview is with the AAGP (Anglo-American Group of Provence) Book Group, a diverse group that meets in France, and has members of British, American, Irish, Dutch and French descent. We were first made aware of this group back in May, when we had a special microsite dedicated to the paperback release of The Help. AAGP member Susan contacted us to let us know that her group read The Help in paperback nearly a year ago in Europe! After hearing this, we wanted to explore some of the differences and similarities between book groups in the U.S. and groups in Europe and beyond.

-Click here to read previous Book Group Spotlight interviews.

Click here to read our latest Book Group Spotlight interview.'s "What to Read Next? Suggest a Book for This Group"

Is your book group stuck in a rut? Or looking to stretch beyond its comfort zone? Maybe you’re just searching for that next great read?

We’re here to help! Our latest feature, What to Read Next? Suggest a Book for This Group, aims to help a group by taking suggestions from our thousands of book group members.

We’ll regularly feature groups, tell you something about them and share their previous six selections, and then ask you to leave a suggestion for them in our special form. We’re excited to see groups sharing picks back and forth, and hope this feature helps groups find a new favorite discussion title!

-Click here to see this month’s featured groups.
-Click here to see the suggestions for last month’s groups.
-Click here to see the suggestions for previously featured groups.
-Click here to submit your group for consideration.


Click here to see our "What to Read Next?" feature. Bets On: TURN OF MIND, THE SOLDIER'S WIFE and THE AMERICAN HEIRESS

Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante (Fiction)
I like books that I can describe really succinctly, like Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante. Here’s the story. Dr. Jennifer White has Alzheimer’s. Her neighbor --- her best friend, the godmother of her daughter --- has been found dead in her home. All clues point to Jennifer, who was a hand surgeon before she became too incapacitated to work, and she cannot remember if she killed her friend or not. It’s brilliantly done as you weave in and out of Jennifer’s world as it unravels.

-Click here to read more of Carol Fitzgerald's thoughts about Turn of Mind.

The Soldier's Wife by Margaret Leroy (Historical Fiction)
When we think about war, we think about everything in black and white. There are two sides. One is good, and the other is evil. There are allies and enemies, and never should the two meet. Or so we think. But The Soldier's Wife throws all that to the wind. Author Margaret Leroy places Vivienne de la Mare in a challenging situation. She is at home on the island of Guernsey with her two young daughters and her elderly mother-in-law as her husband is off fighting the Germans. Rumors of war are swirling around, though life for the moment is safe. Some residents of Guernsey are evacuating to England while others continue living their lives at home in peace, or in as much peace as one can have when war is everywhere.

-Click here to read more of Carol Fitzgerald's thoughts about The Soldier's Wife.

The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin (Historical Fiction)
The American Heiress, Daisy Goodwin's debut novel, opens in Newport, Rhode Island, in its glory days when the Astors ruled the social scene and midnight balls were all the rage. But money is not everything, and Cora Cash's mother wants what many mothers of the day want for their society daughters --- a royal title. Thus they travel to England in search of one, and they learn that this is a time when money really does buy anything. These lush times set the scene for a look at the steamy and darker sides of this world. The fashions, customs and other historical details are just pitch perfect. Goodwin's spirited and upbeat writing style is completely entertaining.

-Click here to read more of Carol Fitzgerald's thoughts about The American Heiress.

Click here to see all the books we're betting you'll love.'s Summer Reading Contests and Features
Summer is upon us! At, this means it's time for us to share some great summer book picks with our Summer Reading Contests and Features. We will be spotlighting a different title or two on select days from Tuesday, May 31st through Wednesday, July 27th, so you will have to check the site each day to see the featured prize book(s) and enter. Some days may even feature special bonus prizes, including beach items, a beach tote stocked with goodies, and additional books. We also will be sending a special daily newsletter to announce the day's title(s), which you can sign up for here.

-Click here to see this year's featured titles.
-Click here to receive our special newsletter announcing each day’s prize book.
Click here to read all the details of's Summer Reading Contests and Features.

Sign Up for's "On Sale This Week" Newsletter
While’s Coming Soon feature has been on the site for many years, we have received requests from readers asking for weekly email notifications when books are released. Now we’re happy to announce our latest project,’s “On Sale This Week” newsletter.

Inside this weekly newsletter you will get a listing of hardcover and paperback titles releasing that week and the next, along with a brief description. It's printer friendly for you to take right to the store or post on a bulletin board in your library or store.

Interested in subscribing? Please fill out our form here to subscribe.
Click here to subscribe to's "On Sale This Week" newsletter.

What's New on the Blog

Our Blog continues to be a big hit among our readers. Throughout the month we are sharing postings from regular contributors --- including authors, librarians, book club facilitators, booksellers and experts in the publishing industry --- as well as special guests. The latest blog can be found here, and here are quick links to some recent posts:

-Deborah Cloyed: THE SUMMER WE CAME TO LIFE -- Part I
-Deborah Cloyed: THE SUMMER WE CAME TO LIFE -- Part II
-Ann Patchett: How to Love a Dog
-Talia Carner: Unveiling the Jerusalem Maiden

For those of you who use RSS feeds to keep track of your favorite blogs, you can now add the Blog to your list by clicking this link. Also, receive updates by email here. In addition, the blog is shared on the Facebook page.


Click here to read the Blog.

New Guides Now Available

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Volume One: The Pox Party by M.T. Anderson: This National Book Award winner tells a gothic tale of slavery, science and the Revolutionary War.
Conquistadora by Esmeralda Santiago: A sweeping historical novel of love and adventure as a young Spanish woman finds her way to exotic Puerto Rico as the Civil War unfolds just to the north in America.
Ellis Island by Kate Kerrigan: An Irish woman ventures across the Atlantic Ocean to land in New York City as a maid for a wealthy family, but can’t forget the country --- or man --- she left behind.
Escape by Barbara Delinsky: An overworked lawyer takes her life into her own hands when she forsakes the corporate world for a mountain town retreat in New Hampshire.
The Gap Year by Sarah Bird: A novel as hilarious as it is heartbreaking about a single mom and her 17-year-old daughter learning how to let go in that precarious moment before college empties the nest.
Hassie Calhoun: A Las Vegas Novel of Innocence by Pamela Cory: A teenager hopes to launch her singing career on the Las Vegas show circuit, but finds that Sin City is much more than just a nickname for the city.
The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler: This international bestseller has a frustrated detective resorting to hypnotism to help crack the case of a brutal triple homicide.
Miss Timmins’ School for Girls by Nayan Currimbhoy: A murder at a British boarding school in the hills of western India launches a young teacher on the journey of a lifetime.
A Stranger Like You by Elizabeth Brundage: A struggling screenwriter goes to great lengths to prove his script is ready for the big screen, and extract revenge on the executive who’s blocking its way.
Summer Friends by Holly Chamberlin: Two childhood friends who have followed very different paths to adulthood reconnect at the summer retreat of their youth.

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

The Four Fingers of Death by Rick Moody: Rick Moody's latest boldly exhibits its author's talents, including his cheeky creativity, linguistic acrobatics, and eccentric characters in this romp through the not-too-distant future.
Love in Mid Air by Kim Wright: A housewife finds herself tempted to forsake her comfortable life and marriage after a chance meeting --- and connection --- with a fellow airplane passenger.
The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin: Two strangers bond together to brave the elements after their plane crashes into the remote recesses of the Rockies.
Perfect Reader by Maggie Pouncey: A writer returns to her childhood home upon her father's death to handle his estate, only to uncover his mysterious secret life.
The Widower's Tale by Julia Glass: Three members of an affluent Boston family begin to explore new, unchartered areas of their lives, including love and politics.
The Wife's Tale by Lori Lansens: A housewife goes on a trip of self-discovery following her 25th wedding anniversary and the sudden disappearance of her husband.

The following new guide is now available for Christian book groups:

The Blessed by Ann H. Gabhart: A woman stuck in a dead-end marriage finds herself tempted by a young Shaker man who tests both their faith and beliefs.
Chasing Sunsets: A Cedar Key Novel by Eva Marie Everson: A divorcee gets a second chance at love after a summer vacation to the tiny island she’s always yearned to call home.
The Protector: Families of Honor, Book 2 by Shelley Shepard Gray: A young woman is forced to sell her family’s farm to support her siblings, but a suitor awaits and hopes to support them all.


This Month's Poll
If you could have only ONE of the following served at your book group meetings, what would you pick?

Coffee or tea
We do not eat at our book group meetings.
I am not in a book club.

Click here to vote in our poll.

This Month's Newsletter Contest Book: THE SOLDIER'S WIFE by Margaret Leroy
Win a copy of The Soldier's Wife by Margaret Leroy 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 August 1, 2011. If you are receiving this newsletter in your mailbox, you already are signed up!

More about The Soldier's Wife:
As World War II draws closer and closer to Guernsey, Vivienne de la Mare knows that there will be sacrifices to be made. Not just for herself, but for her two young daughters and for her mother-in-law, for whom she cares while her husband is away fighting. What she does not expect is that she will fall in love with one of the enigmatic German soldiers who take up residence in the house next door to her home. As their relationship intensifies, so do the pressures on Vivienne. Food and resources grow scant, and the restrictions placed upon the residents of the island grow with each passing week. Though Vivienne knows the perils of her love affair with Gunther, she believes that she can keep their relationship and her family safe. But when she becomes aware of the full brutality of the Occupation, she must decide if she is willing to risk her personal happiness for the life of a stranger.
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 ([email protected])

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