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February 2015

ReadingGroupGuides.com Newsletter February 2015


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BIG News and Ideas for Book Groups

The publishing world is buzzing with the news that Harper Lee, author of the seminal classic ---and award-winning --- TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, will be publishing its sequel after more than 50 years. The “new” book, GO SET A WATCHMAN, takes place in Maycomb, AL, 20 years after the events of MOCKINGBIRD, and has Scout returning to visit her father, the unforgettable Atticus Finch. It’s set to be published in July of this year. What interested me most is that this book was written in the 1950s before Harper Lee (funny how I always say her full name, while with some authors I reference their first or last names) wrote TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, which means it was written from a point of view that precedes the Civil Rights marches and legislation changes in the ‘60s. For that reason alone, I look forward to reading it. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD remains a famously good book group selection; many of you wrote to share that you had re-read it at the 50th anniversary of its publication in 2010. Wondering if will you be re-reading it with your group? Or on your own? We do have a guide for it, which you can find here. It’s one book where the characters and plot are so vivid to me. All books are not like that!

We’re also looking forward to ReadingGroupGuides.com’s 15th Anniversary! Fifteen years later, we’ve come a long way. We’ll be kicking off the celebration at our BEA Speed Dating for Book Groups event in May (more to come on that soon), and we’ll be adding special anniversary features from then until the end of the year. Ideas we are kicking around include live events around the country, virtual events, Top 15 lists, a 15-book gift box, etc. Shoot me a note to tell me what you’d like to see.

We’ve been getting terrific reader feedback for our new features, including the bookshelves and our monthly Reading Roundup. We’re always interested in what you feel would facilitate better book choices and better discussions. Send me a note at Carol@bookreporter.com to let me know what else you’d like to see on the site.

After our question in our January newsletter, a number of you wrote asking for suggestions for making your book group meetings more interesting. With that in mind, I wanted to share something we heard from one of our readers, Cathy, about her book group, which is made up of 14-16 women, ages 34-66, who all live in the same town. The group has been together for 10 years. As she says, “Some members are married, some divorced, some never married, some with children, some without…various financial situations and backgrounds, but we all have one thing in common. We LOVE to read and talk about books!” She would like to see a feature where groups would pass along suggestions and recommendations for book group meetings and themes, specifically meeting ideas that worked really well, and even those that flopped.

Cathy went on to share this: “We won multiple copies of THE FORTUNE HUNTER for our group in your contest and when we met to discuss the book we all wore plastic tiaras and costume jewelry in honor of Empress Sisi. It was really fun! We also had a recent book group meeting at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. We had read and were discussing THE ART FORGER by B. A. Shapiro and, as we all live right outside of Boston, we carpooled in, spent a few hours in the museum and discussed the book over lunch at the Museum's Cafe...a very fun meeting! One of our best! For our April meeting we will be discussing THE MAGICIAN’S LIE by Greer Macallister (which we won from your contest!) and we have the daughters of two book group members coming to the meeting to perform their magic tricks; they are pretty good magicians and we hope to show these girls how much fun a book group can be!”

I am sure there are many other book groups out there that have had wonderful meetings and would share their ideas, food suggestions, themes and details, along with the books they have read. It would be really fun to read about your meetings. Please share them with Emily and me!

Here is a tip from us. Once your discussion is over, rate it. The discussion, not the book. Was it a book that was worthy of discussion? What were the topics you covered? Did the discussion stay on topic, or at least move to some interesting tangents? Did everyone participate, either with comments or with silent commiseration? This is not about whether you liked the book or not, but rather if it was a good discussion. MANY books that people did not like have led to terrific discussions. It’s not just about the book; rather, it’s about the conversation. Ponder this at your next meeting.

We have three contests to share with you this month. The first is very special as we’re offering one group the chance to win copies of bestselling author Deeanne Gist’s TIFFANY GIRL, PLUS dinner with her where you’ll discuss her book. We offered this opportunity with another author last year, and it was such a smashing success that we are thrilled that Deanne is available to meet with a group and share in their discussion! TIFFANY GIRL is the heartwarming story of the impetuous Flossie Jayne, a beautiful, budding artist who is handpicked by Louis Tiffany to help complete the Tiffany chapel. As challenges mount, her ambitions become threatened from an unexpected quarter: her own heart. It’s historical fiction that gives readers an inside look at the fascinating world of Tiffany glass and the creation of this project. Deeanne will host a special evening at a restaurant local to you and your group one night during the week of Monday, April 27th - Friday, May 1st. Enter here by Wednesday, March 4th and noon ET.

We’re also giving away 10 copies of bestselling Australian author Frances Whiting’s WALKING ON TRAMPOLINES. Praised as "a tender exploration of friendship, families and first love,” it’s is a coming-of-age novel equal parts heartwarming, accessible and thought-provoking. You won’t want to miss it! Enter here by Wednesday, March 4th at noon ET for your chance to win.

Our latest prize book for our monthly “What’s Your Book Group Reading This Month?” contest is Phil Klay’s National Book Award-winning debut, REDEPLOYMENT. This collection of short stories takes readers to the frontlines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, asking us to understand what happened there, and what happened to the soldiers who returned. Interwoven with themes of brutality and faith, guilt and fear, helplessness and survival, the characters in these stories struggle to make meaning out of chaos. Enter here for Wednesday, March 4th at noon ET, by letting us know what your group is reading this month. One note on reading short stories. A short story writer told me once that readers are not supposed to love each and every story in a short story collection. When discussing a book of short stories with your group, be sure to talk about which resonated with each of you.

In honor of Black History Month --- and the 102nd birthday of Rosa Parks, which was February 4th (the book’s release date) --- we want to bring your attention to Jonathan Odell’s MISS HAZEL AND THE ROSA PARKS LEAGUE. Set in pre-Civil Rights Mississippi, it’s the story of two young mothers, Hazel and Vida --- one wealthy and white and the other poor and black. Forced to spend time together with no one else to rely on, the two women find they have more in common than they thought and together they turn Delphi on its head. It is already being hailed as a contemporary classic. I found it to be pitch perfect in its descriptions of these two women who are each strong in their own right and loved what they learned and shared with each other. Read on for more about this book.

This month we have FIVE featured guides.

The first is for bestselling author Kristin Hannah’s THE NIGHTINGALE, which tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France. With courage, grace and powerful insight, Kristin captures the epic panorama of World War II and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. It is such a good book group book; here’s something that Kristin shared about it: “In love we find out who we want to be. In war we find out who we are.” That alone is worthy of a discussion, along with how these sisters handle the odds that they encounter.

Keep an eye out for our review and interview with Kristin, which will be live on Bookreporter.com at the end of this week. Click here for the featured guide. I must say, this is Kristin’s BEST BOOK; everyone I know who read an early copy has been calling or writing to talk about it. I met up with Kristin (pictured above with a reader) at her event in New York City on Tuesday night; her talk was wonderful and the audience was enthralled. Melanie Steinberg, who edits our Bookreporter.com Word of Mouth feature, caught her event at Book Revue last night and she immediately wrote to share what a special evening it was. There are 14 more tour locations, which you can find here.

Next we have THE EVENING CHORUS, Helen Humphrey’s spare, beautiful examination of the natural world and the human heart. Shot down on his first mission, James is taken to a German POW camp. With James away, his young war bride Rose is free in a way she has never known --- until a furloughed soldier brings new choices. When James’s sister, Enid, is bombed out of London, her only refuge is her brother’s --- Rose’s --- home. Each of these characters will find liberty amid war’s privations and discover confinements that come with peace. Click here for the featured guide.

The third guide we’re featuring this month is for Nickolas Butler’s SHOTGUN LOVESONGS, which I chose as one of my Bets On picks back in March 2014, now available in paperback. It’s the story of old friends Hank, Leland, Kip and Ronny, who were all born and raised in the same Wisconsin town and are now coming into their own (or not) as husbands and fathers. Seamlessly woven into their patchwork is Beth, whose presence among them --- both then and now --- fuels the kind of passion one comes to expect of lovesongs and rivalries. Now all four are home, in hopes of finding what could be real purchase in the world. Click here for the featured guide. And look out for BENEATH THE BONFIRE, Nickolas’ forthcoming collection of short stories --- in stores May 5th.

We’re also featuring the guide for the late Carol Wall’s MISTER OWITA’S GUIDE TO GARDENING, now also available in paperback. It’s the true story of her unlikely friendship with an African man who tends her neighbor’s garden. They both hold long-buried secrets that, when revealed, will cement their friendship forever. We celebrated the original release of this book in November with a special contest, and one of our winners, Trudi from Tomball, TX, shared this note with us: “I have just finished reading MISTER OWITA’S GUIDE TO GARDENING, a book I won in a contest. I am also a cancer survivor so the book had extra meaning. The book was a great study of two wonderful individuals. Not many people in this life find such an extraordinary friendship; I wish I had had the opportunity to know them. This is a spiritual journey of love and grace. I would happily recommend it to anyone who needs a good cry.” Click here for the featured guide.

Last but not least, we have award-winning journalist Jennifer Senior’s ALL JOY AND NO FUN, now available in paperback. Thousands of books have examined the effects of parents on their children. But almost none have thought to ask: What are the effects of children on their parents? In ALL JOY AND NO FUN, Jennifer Senior analyzes the many ways children reshape their parents' lives. Click here for the featured guide. MANY parents who I know have read this book and pronounced it spot on!

Our Winter Reading Dedicated Contests and Feature is up and running over on Bookreporter.com. On select days through this month, we’ll be awarding new and upcoming releases to lucky readers. Our Winter Reading newsletters have already started, so be sure you’re signed up to receive them so you know what book we’re giving away on each of the contest days. We do not send you our themed newsletters unless you opt-in, so sign up here. If you are having trouble doing so, please write John Maher at John@bookreporter.com.

Our 10th Annual Valentine’s Day Contest is also live on Bookreporter.com! We’re giving five readers the opportunity to win six love-themed books, along with some delicious Ghirardelli chocolates. All you have to do is enter here by Monday, February 16th at noon ET for your chance to win this irresistible prize package. Please keep in mind that we also have Valentine’s Day contests running on our Teenreads.com and 20SomethingReads.com sites that you will want to enter as well!

We’ve updated our monthly Reading Roundup feature, which highlights selected titles from Indie Booksellers (Indie Next Picks), Librarians (LibraryReads), Target and Costco. This month’s top books include THE NIGHTINGALE, MY SUNSHINE AWAY by M.O. Walsh, A SPOOL OF BLUE THREAD by Anne Tyler and SHOTGUN LOVESONGS. Click here for the full list.

This month, we’re curious what genres you’d like to read more of with your group. This is, of course, part of our move to get to know your interests so we can better tailor our features to you and make suggestions in select genres. Let us know by taking the poll here.

In closing, I heard from my mom as I was writing this newsletter and she had this to say: “Yesterday we had a wonderful discussion on SNOW IN AUGUST. Several of the women knew Yiddish and its roots in German. The variety of backgrounds in the group made for a very good discussion. It was not a book that I would have read on my own…the plus of belonging to a book group.”

Looking forward to hearing your ideas…please be sure to send them to Emily at Emily@bookreporter.com and copy me at Carol@bookreporter.com.

Here’s to a great discussion this month!

Carol Fitzgerald (Carol@bookreporter.com)

P.S. For those of you who are doing online shopping for books, if you use the store links below, ReadingGroupGuides.com gets a small affiliate fee on your purchases. We would appreciate your considering this!

 

Special Contest: Win Copies of TIFFANY GIRL by Deeanne Gist for Your Group PLUS a Dinner with the Author

We're giving one group the chance to win copies of bestselling author Deeanne Gist's TIFFANY GIRL --- the heartwarming story of the impetuous Flossie Jayne, a beautiful, budding artist who is handpicked by Louis Tiffany to help complete the Tiffany chapel --- PLUS dinner with the author to discuss the book. To enter, please fill out this form by Wednesday, March 4th at noon ET.

TIFFANY GIRL by Deeanne Gist (Historical Fiction)
From the bestselling author of IT HAPPENED AT THE FAIR and FAIR PLAY comes a compelling historical novel about a progressive “New Woman” --- the girl behind Tiffany’s chapel --- and the love that threatens it all.

As preparations for the 1893 World’s Fair set Chicago and the nation on fire, Louis Tiffany --- heir to the exclusive Fifth Avenue jewelry empire --- seizes the opportunity to unveil his state-of-the-art, stained glass, mosaic chapel, the likes of which the world has never seen.

But when Louis’s dream is threatened by a glassworkers’ strike months before the Fair opens, he turns to an unforeseen source for help: the female students at the Art Students League of New York. Eager for adventure, the young women pick up their skirts, move to boarding houses, take up steel cutters, and assume new identities as the “Tiffany Girls.”

TIFFANY GIRL is the heartwarming story of the impetuous Flossie Jayne, a beautiful, budding artist who is handpicked by Louis to help complete the Tiffany chapel. Though excited to live in a boarding house when most women stayed home, she quickly finds the world is less welcoming than anticipated. From a Casanova male, to an unconventional married couple, and a condescending singing master, she takes on a colorful cast of characters to transform the boarding house into a home while racing to complete the Tiffany chapel and make a name for herself in the art world.

As challenges mount, her ambitions become threatened from an unexpected quarter: her own heart. Who will claim victory? Her dreams or the captivating boarder next door?

-Click here for the reading group guide.

 

Click here to enter the contest.

 
Special Contest: Win a Copy of WALKING ON TRAMPOLINES by Frances Whiting

We're giving 10 readers the chance to win a copy of WALKING ON TRAMPOLINES, bestselling Australian author Frances Whiting's heartwarming coming-of-age novel about friendship, first love and forgiveness. To enter, please fill out this form by Wednesday, March 4th at noon ET.

WALKING ON TRAMPOLINES by Frances Whiting (Fiction)
Tallulah de Longland,' she said slowly, letting all the Ls in my name loll about lazily in her mouth before passing judgement. 'That,' she announced, 'is a serious glamorgeous name.'

From the day Annabelle Andrews sashays into her classroom, Tallulah 'Lulu' de Longland is bewitched: by Annabelle, by her family, and their sprawling, crumbling house tumbling down to the river.

Their unlikely friendship intensifies through a secret language where they share confidences about their unusual mothers, first loves and growing up in the small coastal town of Juniper Bay. Their lives become as entwined as Annabelle's initials engraved beneath the de Longland kitchen table.

But the euphoria of youth rarely lasts, and the implosion that destroys their friendship leaves lasting scars and a legacy of self-doubt that haunts Lulu into adulthood.

Years later, Lulu is presented with a choice: remain the perpetual good girl who misses out, or finally step out from the shadows and do something extraordinary. And possibly unforgivable.

It's not how far you fall, but how high you bounce.

-Click here for the reading group guide.

 

Click here to enter the contest.

 
"What's Your Book Group Reading This Month?" Contest: Win 12 Copies of REDEPLOYMENT by Phil Klay for Your Group

Each month, we ask book groups to share the titles they are reading that month and rate them. From all entries, three winners will be selected, and each will win 12 copies of that month’s prize book for their group. Note: To be eligible to win, let us know the title of the book that YOUR book group is CURRENTLY reading, NOT the title we are giving away.

Our latest prize book is Phil Klay's National Book Award-winning debut, REDEPLOYMENT, a searing collection of short stories that takes readers to the frontlines of Iraq and Afghanistan and asks them to understand what happened there, and what happened to the soldiers who returned. Click here to enter by Wednesday, March 4th at noon ET.

REDEPLOYMENT by Phil Klay (Fiction)
Phil Klay’s REDEPLOYMENT takes readers to the frontlines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, asking us to understand what happened there, and what happened to the soldiers who returned. Interwoven with themes of brutality and faith, guilt and fear, helplessness and survival, the characters in these stories struggle to make meaning out of chaos.

In “Redeployment,” a soldier who has had to shoot dogs because they were eating human corpses must learn what it is like to return to domestic life in suburbia, surrounded by people “who have no idea where Fallujah is, where three members of your platoon died.” In “After Action Report,” a Lance Corporal seeks expiation for a killing he didn’t commit, in order that his best friend will be unburdened. A Mortuary Affairs Marine tells about his experiences collecting remains --- of U.S. and Iraqi soldiers both. A chaplain sees his understanding of Christianity, and his ability to provide solace through religion, tested by the actions of a ferocious Colonel. And in the darkly comic “Money as a Weapons System,” a young Foreign Service Officer is given the absurd task of helping Iraqis improve their lives by teaching them to play baseball. These stories reveal the intricate combination of monotony, bureaucracy, comradeship and violence that make up a soldier’s daily life at war, and the isolation, remorse and despair that can accompany a soldier’s homecoming.

REDEPLOYMENT is poised to become a classic in the tradition of war writing. Across nations and continents, Klay sets in devastating relief the two worlds a soldier inhabits: one of extremes and one of loss. Written with a hard-eyed realism and stunning emotional depth, this work marks Phil Klay as one of the most talented new voices of his generation.

-Click here for the reading group guide.

 

Click here to enter the contest.

 
Featured Guide: THE NIGHTINGALE by Kristin Hannah
THE NIGHTINGALE by Kristin Hannah (Historical Fiction)
In love we find out who we want to be.

In war we find out who we are.

FRANCE, 1939

In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France...but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When a German captain requisitions Vianne’s home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates all around them, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive.

Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious 18-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can...completely. But when he betrays her, Isabelle joins the Resistance and never looks back, risking her life time and again to save others.

With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. THE NIGHTINGALE tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France --- a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.

 
Click here for the featured guide.

 
Featured Guide: THE EVENING CHORUS by Helen Humphreys
THE EVENING CHORUS by Helen Humphreys (Historical Fiction)
Shot down on his first mission, James is taken to a German POW camp. To bide the time, he studies a family of birds. Some prisoners have been taken out of the camp and shot; some plot escape. And then, one day, the Kommandant invites him for a drive.

With James away, his young war bride Rose is free in a way she has never known --- working as an air raid warden, roaming the countryside with only her dog as company. Until a furloughed soldier brings new choices.

And then James’s sister, Enid, is bombed out of London. She loses her home and her lover in one tragic, impersonal act of war. Her only refuge is her brother’s --- Rose’s --- home. Each is protective of her secrets, but the two form a surprising friendship.

Each of these characters will find liberty amid war’s privations and discover confinements that come with peace. From a writer of “delicate and incandescent” (San Francisco Chronicle) prose, THE EVENING CHORUS offers a beautiful, spare examination of the natural world and the human heart.

 
Click here for the featured guide.

 
Featured Guide: SHOTGUN LOVESONGS by Nickolas Butler

SHOTGUN LOVESONGS by Nickolas Butler (Fiction)
Hank, Leland, Kip and Ronny were all born and raised in the same Wisconsin town --- Little Wing --- and are now coming into their own (or not) as husbands and fathers. One of them never left, still farming the family's land that's been tilled for generations. Others did leave, went farther afield to make good, with varying degrees of success; as a rock star, commodities trader, rodeo stud. And seamlessly woven into their patchwork is Beth, whose presence among them --- both then and now --- fuels the kind of passion one comes to expect of lovesongs and rivalries.

Now all four are home, in hopes of finding what could be real purchase in the world. The result is a shared memory only half-recreated, riddled with culture clashes between people who desperately wish to see themselves as the unified tribe they remember, but are confronted with how things have, in fact, changed.

There is conflict here between longtime buddies, between husbands and wives --- told with writing that is, frankly, gut-wrenching, and even heartbreaking. But there is also hope, healing, and at times, even heroism. It is strong, American stuff, not at all afraid of showing that we can be good, too --- not just fallible and compromising. SHOTGUN LOVESONGS is a remarkable and uncompromising saga that explores the age-old question of whether or not you can ever truly come home again --- and the kind of steely faith and love returning requires.

Now available in paperback! And look out for BENEATH THE BONFIRE, a forthcoming collection of short stories by Nickolas Butler --- in stores May 5th.

-Click here to read a review on Bookreporter.com.
-Click here to read "Sneak Peek" readers' comments about the book.
-Click here to read why we're betting you'll love this book.

 

Click here for the featured guide.

 
On Sale Now: MISS HAZEL AND THE ROSA PARKS LEAGUE by Jonathan Odell

Publishing on the 102nd birthday of Rosa Parks,
a rediscovered contemporary classic
by one of The South’s storytelling masters

MISS HAZEL AND THE ROSA PARKS LEAGUE by Jonathan Odell (Historical Fiction)
Set in pre-Civil Rights Mississippi, MISS HAZEL AND THE ROSA PARKS LEAGUE is the story of two young mothers, Hazel and Vida --- one wealthy and white and the other poor and black --- who have only two things in common: the devastating loss of their children, and a deep and abiding loathing for one another.

Embittered and distrusting, Vida is harassed by Delphi’s racist sheriff and haunted by the son she lost to the world. Hazel, too, has lost a son and can’t keep a grip on her fractured life. After drunkenly crashing her car into a manger scene while gunning for the baby Jesus, Hazel is sedated and bed-ridden. Hazel’s husband hires Vida to keep tabs on his unpredictable wife and to care for his sole surviving son. Forced to spend time together with no one else to rely on, the two women find they have more in common than they thought, and together they turn Delphi on its head. It is the story of a town, a people, and a culture on the verge of a great change that begins with small things, like unexpected friendship.

-Click here for the reading group guide.
 

Click here to buy the book.

 
Featured Guide: MISTER OWITA'S GUIDE TO GARDENING by Carol Wall

MISTER OWITA'S GUIDE TO GARDENING: How I Learned the Unexpected Joy of a Green Thumb and an Open Heart by Carol Wall (Memoir)
Carol Wall, a white woman living in a lily-white neighborhood in Middle America, was at a crossroads in her life. Her children were grown; she had success; had overcome illness; her beloved parents were getting older. One day she notices a dark-skinned African man tending her neighbor's yard. His name is Giles Owita. He bags groceries at the supermarket. He comes from Kenya. And he's very good at gardening.

Before long Giles is transforming not only Carol's yard, but her life. Though they are seemingly quite different, a caring bond grows between them. But they both hold long-buried secrets that, when revealed, will cement their friendship forever.

Now available in paperback!

-Click here to read our review on Bookreporter.com.
 

Click here for the featured guide.

 
Featured Guide: ALL JOY AND NO FUN by Jennifer Senior
ALL JOY AND NO FUN: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood by Jennifer Senior (Parenting)
Thousands of books have examined the effects of parents on their children. But almost none have thought to ask: What are the effects of children on their parents?

The BEA Buzz Book, now in paperback! In ALL JOY AND NO FUN, award-winning journalist Jennifer Senior analyzes the many ways children reshape their parents' lives, whether it's their marriages, their jobs, their habits, their hobbies, their friendships, or their internal senses of self. She argues that changes in the last half century have radically altered the roles of today's mothers and fathers, making their mandates at once more complex and far less clear. ALL JOY AND NO FUN is the instant New York Times bestseller that The Christian Science Monitor declared "an important book, much the way THE FEMININE MYSTIQUE was, because it offers parents a common language, an understanding that they're not alone."

 
Click here for the featured guide.

 
Bookreporter.com’s First Annual Winter Reading Contests and Feature

At Bookreporter.com, we are kicking off 2015 with our first-ever Winter Reading Contests and Feature. On select days between now and mid-February, we will be hosting a series of 24-hour contests spotlighting a book releasing this winter and giving five lucky readers a chance to win it. We also will be sending a special newsletter to announce the day's title, which you can sign up for here.

We encourage you to take a look at this year's featured titles, as these are the books you will want to read during the winter months --- and into the warmer ones!

Our latest prize book is A MEMORY OF VIOLETS by Hazel Gaynor. To enter, please fill out this form by Friday, February 6th at 11:59am ET.

This year's featured titles include:

 

Click here to read all the contest details and see our featured titles.

 
Bookreporter.com's 10th Annual Valentine's Day Contest: Enter to Win Books and Sweet Treats for Yourself or Your Valentine!
Valentine's Day is only a few heartbeats away. We can't think of a better way to celebrate this special day than to cuddle up with your loved one...and a good book, of course! We're giving readers the chance to win one of our five Bookreporter.com Valentine's Day prize packages, which includes one copy of each of our featured books and some delicious Ghirardelli chocolate. Enter here between now and Monday, February 16th at noon ET for your opportunity to be a lucky (and beloved!) winner. If you're feeling frisky, share with us your all-time book character crush. Don't be shy, we all got 'em! We'll post your literary loves and lusts --- along with the five winners --- right after Valentine's Day, so please be on the lookout!

Our featured Valentine’s Day titles are:
Click here to enter the contest and see our featured books.

 
Recent "Bookreporter.com Bets On" Selections: THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, THE SAME SKY and FEAR THE DARKNESS

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins (Psychological Thriller)
I have been “on board the praise train” for THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins since I first started reading it. I clearly remember picking it up late one Thursday night, getting about 10 pages in and forcing myself to stop. I knew that if I kept reading, there was no way I was going to be able to put it down, and I had a huge day of my “Friday writing” scheduled for the next day. But as SOON as I typed the last word that Friday, I dashed for it to start reading and did not stop until I was done. (I now understand what a child feels like being told to stop playing a video game to do homework!)

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read a review on Bookreporter.com.

 

THE SAME SKY by Amanda Eyre Ward (Fiction)
THE SAME SKY by Amanda Eyre Ward has a two-threaded storyline. One is about Carla, a young girl living in Honduras who is caretaking her six-year-old brother after her mother moves to Texas. The goal is that she will make enough money to bring the children north. She sends them money as she can and talks to them weekly. The children live in abject poverty, scouring garbage dumpsters for food; the brother starts sniffing glue. Carla decides they will head north through Mexico as they are starving and fearful for their lives.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read a review on Bookreporter.com.


FEAR THE DARKNESS by Becky Masterman (Thriller)
FEAR THE DARKNESS is Becky Masterman’s follow-up to the Edgar Award and CWA Gold Dagger finalist RAGE AGAINST THE DYING starring ex-FBI agent Brigid Quinn. From the start, Masterman delivered a strong character in Brigid --- someone with a past that has shaped her, but not one that has crippled her. I love that she is an older character and is not perfect, but instead embraces her flaws.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read a review.

 

Click here for more books we're betting you'll love.

 
New Guides Now Available

The following guides are now available on ReadingGroupGuides.com:

AFTER THE WAR IS OVER by Jennifer Robson
(Historical Fiction)
Jennifer Robson, the international bestselling author of SOMEWHERE IN FRANCE returns with her sweeping second novel --- a tale of class, love and freedom --- in which a young woman must find her place in a world forever changed.

ALL JOY AND NO FUN: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood by Jennifer Senior (Parenting/Sociology)
In ALL JOY AND NO FUN, award-winning journalist Jennifer Senior analyzes the many ways children reshape their parents' lives, whether it's their marriages, their jobs, their habits, their hobbies, their friendships, or their internal senses of self.

BLUE STARS by Emily Gray Tedrowe (Fiction)
Book group fiction at its best, BLUE STARS explores the bonds of family and the limits of fidelity, and tells the story of life on the home front in the 21st century.

THE EVENING CHORUS by Helen Humphreys (Historical Fiction)
Amid the chaos of World War II, three people find unexpected freedom through their connection to the natural world.

GIRL BEFORE A MIRROR by Liza Palmer (Fiction)
The author of CONVERSATIONS WITH THE FAT GIRL --- optioned for HBO --- returns with the hilarious and heartfelt story of a woman who must learn how to be the heroine of her own life --- a journey that will teach her priceless lessons about love, friendship, family, work and her own heart.

A HISTORY OF LONELINESS by John Boyne (Fiction)
The riveting narrative of an honorable Irish priest who finds the church collapsing around him at a pivotal moment in its history.

A MEMORY OF VIOLETS: A Novel of London's Flower Sellers by Hazel Gaynor (Historical Fiction)
From the bestselling author of THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME comes a story set in Victorian London of two long-lost sisters, whose lives take different paths, and the young woman who will be transformed by their experiences.

MISS HAZEL AND THE ROSA PARKS LEAGUE by Jonathan Odell (Historical Fiction)
Set in pre-Civil Rights Mississippi, MISS HAZEL AND THE ROSA PARKS LEAGUE is the story of a town, a people and a culture on the verge of a great change that begins with small things, like unexpected friendship.

MISTER OWITA'S GUIDE TO GARDENING: How I Learned the Unexpected Joy of a Green Thumb and an Open Heart by Carol Wall (Memoir)
A true story of a unique friendship between two people who had nothing --- and ultimately everything --- in common.

THE NIGHTINGALE by Kristin Hannah (Historical Fiction)
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes an epic novel of love and war, spanning from the 1940s to the present day, and the secret lives of those who live in a small French town.

THE PEARL THAT BROKE ITS SHELL by Nadia Hashimi (Fiction)
Afghan-American Nadia Hashimi's literary debut novel is a searing tale of powerlessness, fate and the freedom to control one's own fate that combines the cultural flavor and emotional resonance of the works of Khaled Hosseini, Jhumpa Lahiri and Lisa See.

REDEPLOYMENT by Phil Klay (Fiction/Short Stories)
Written with a hard-eyed realism and stunning emotional depth, REDEPLOYMENT takes readers to the frontlines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, asking us to understand what happened there, and what happened to the soldiers who returned.

SHOTGUN LOVESONGS by Nickolas Butler (Fiction)
SHOTGUN LOVESONGS is a remarkable and uncompromising saga that explores the age-old question of whether or not you can ever truly come home again --- and the kind of steely faith and love returning requires.

TIFFANY GIRL by Deeanne Gist (Historical Fiction)
From the bestselling author of IT HAPPENED AT THE FAIR and FAIR PLAY comes a compelling historical novel about a progressive “New Woman,” Flossie Jayne, the girl behind Tiffany’s chapel and the love that threatens it all.

TRIGGER WARNING: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman (Fiction/Short Stories)
In this new anthology, Neil Gaiman pierces the veil of reality to reveal the enigmatic, shadowy world that lies beneath, transporting us deep into the realm of imagination, where the fantastical becomes real and the everyday incandescent.

WALKING ON TRAMPOLINES by Frances Whiting (Fiction)
Praised as "a tender exploration of friendship, families and first love" by Liane Moriarty, New York Times bestselling author of THE HUSBAND’S SECRET, WALKING ON TRAMPOLINES is a coming-of-age novel equal parts heartwarming, accessible and thought-provoking, from bestselling Australian novelist Frances Whiting.

 

This Month's Poll
What genres are you interested in exploring with your group?

Historical Fiction
Memoir
Nonfiction
Young Adult
Science Fiction/Fantasy
History
Short Stories
Mystery/Thriller
Romance
Classics
Women's Fiction

 
Click here to answer the poll by Wednesday, March 4th at noon ET.

 

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Carol Fitzgerald (Carol@bookreporter.com)

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