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June 2006 Newsletter

May 2006

This Month on

Our Book Club Visit and Summer Reading Ideas

Special Chat Opportunity and Book Giveaway --- EYE CONTACT by Cammie McGovern

Special Contest --- Win 20 SIGNED Copies of YA-YAS IN BLOOM by Rebecca Wells For Your Group!



LIPSTICK JIHAD by Azadeh Moaveni

THE LAST SONG OF DUSK by Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi

Now Available in Paperback --- MAYBE A MIRACLE by Brian Strause and a Special $2 Rebate for Book Clubs

Featured Message Board Discussion Books --- THE SHADOW OF THE WIND, THE STONE GAP TRILOGY and WATER FOR ELEPHANTS Talks to Librarians, Booksellers and Book Clubs

For Registered Book Clubs - FIVE Special Offers

Newest Guides

Christian Guides

This Month's Contest: Win 20 Copies of GODS IN ALABAMA by Joshilyn Jackson
Find a Guide by Title
Find a Guide by Author
Advice and Ideas
Register Your Group
Shop Amazon with this link and support Read more about Pages magazine here Find your local Booksense independent bookseller here.

Our Book Club Visit and Summer Reading Ideas Editor Shannon McKenna and I had a lovely meeting last week with a New York area book group, Zagati Literati (named because they "love great eating and memorable books"), at Trattoria Alaba in the city. What a terrific and welcoming group of women! They discussed Atonement, which had many angles to explore both in the plot and the characters. We were impressed with the way they handled their discussion. There were no "egos" at the table, but rather a terrific conversation in which everyone's voice counted. Our contribution: giving them suggestions for their upcoming discussions, as they said they were tired of reading about "dysfunctional families." Given their love of eating and reading (and probably inspired by the terrific Italian meal), we suggested Lucia Lucia by Adriana Trigiani for their next read. And then, for their following title, we suggested Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, which we have been raving about at

We thank Susan DeFeo for inviting us. One amusing note: There was one very funny moment when we first got to the restaurant where the group had mistaken OUR Shannon McKenna for Shannon McKenna who writes erotica --- they had googled her name and found the author. It took us a few moments to unravel that we were just from and that neither of us was an author. Shannon and I will chuckle over that one for a while. I think their group will too. We will be sending them a special thank you gift from this week.

The following night I was out and I ran into Meg Smith, who is with Booksense, the independent bookseller association. We were chatting about summer reading ideas for book clubs and she shared one that I loved. A couple of years ago, members of her group each read a short story and prepared a dish or drink about it during one of their summer meetings. They never talked about what they were doing in advance so the meeting had an element of surprise to it. She also said that somehow they came up with a good mix of drinks, desserts and other foods without sharing ahead of time. Nice idea.

We wondered what your group does in summer months that may be different from your meetings at other times during the year. Share these ideas on our message board here.

We know that some groups do not meet during the summer months, so we wanted to do something special this summer. We selected some titles that we will be discussing online in June, July and August. You can pop onto the discussion online as you have time over the summer. See details below. It's a nice way to supplement whatever you are doing with your group, or to fill a gap if your group is not meeting.

Our lineup this month is stellar, with a nice range of contests and special offers, as well as guides to titles that we are excited about. I was making a reading list as I worked on this update.

Also, for those of you who love contests, you may want to check out the weekly Summer Beach Bag of Books contests that we are doing at Visit us every week through August 25th to see a different featured title and a new contest prize --- a beach bag stocked with that book, plus summertime essentials that tie in to its theme. We're giving away five each week, as well as five book prizes.

Have a nice June...take some time for hammock reading!

Carol Fitzgerald (

Special Chat Opportunity and Book Giveaway --- EYE CONTACT by Cammie McGovern

As children wage mock battles in the playground of Woodside Elementary School, two students, a little girl and boy, vanish into the woods behind the school. Later, only one of them, Adam, a nine-year-old boy with autism, is found alive, the sole witness to an incomprehensible killing. Barely verbal on most days, Adam has retreated into a silent world that Cara, his mother, knows only too well. With her community in shock and her son unable to help with the police investigation, Cara tries to decode the puzzling events.

A thrilling novel of psychological suspense and a gripping tale of a crime that strikes at the core of a small community, Cammie McGovern's heartrending novel is, above all, the powerful story of the tender and complex bond between a mother and her young son.

Three lucky winners will receive up to 12 copies of Eye Contact for their group and a chat with Cammie McGovern! Interested? Send your name, mailing address, and a brief description of your reading group to by July 6th, at 11:59PM.

-Click here to read the guide for Eye Contact.

Click here for all the contest details.


Special Contest --- Win 20 SIGNED Copies of YA-YAS IN BLOOM by Rebecca Wells For Your Group!

An emotionally charged addition to Rebecca Wells' award-winning bestseller Little Altars Everywhere and #1 New York Times bestseller Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Ya-Yas In Bloom reveals the roots of the Ya-Yas' friendship in the 1930s and roars with all the raw power of Vivi Abbott Walker's 1962 T-Bird through sixty years of marriage, child-raising, and hair-raising family secrets.

One lucky winning group will receive 20 signed copies of Ya-Yas in Bloom by Rebecca Wells for their group. Interested? Send your name, mailing address, and a brief description of your reading group to All entries must be received by 11:59PM on July 6th, 2006. See complete rules here.

-Click here to read the guide for Ya-Yas in Bloom.

Click here to read the contest details.



Carbondale, Illinois. 1958. For widowed Tessie Lockhart, booking two seats on a passenger train to Florida symbolizes a fresh start, far from her memories of love and loss. For Tessie's teenage daughter, Dinah, who misses her father terribly, the move to Gainesville means a new school and the painful ordeal of making new friends. Rich, popular Crystal Landy is one of the first girls Dinah meets ---and it will be Crystal, along with her exquisite mother, Victoria, who will transform the Lockharts' lives in ways they never could have imagined. For as war and change come to this small southern town, the bonds between mothers and daughters will be tested, friendships sealed, secrets revealed, and relationships forever altered by the turbulence of the coming decades.

Wise, moving, and warmly funny, The Orange Blossom Special spans twenty years in the lives of an unforgettable cast of characters. Betsy Carter has crafted a powerful, richly rewarding novel about growing up, moving on, and turning strangers into friends.

Click here to read our guide for The Orange Blossom Special.



Wisconsin, 1961. Evelyn "Button" Peters is nine the summer Winnalee and her fiery-spirited older sister, Freeda, blow into her small town --- and from the moment she sees them, Button knows this will be a summer unlike any other.

Much to her mother's dismay, Button is fascinated by the Malone sisters, especially Winnalee, a feisty scrap of a thing who carries around a shiny silver urn containing her mother's ashes and a tome she calls "The Book of Bright Ideas." It is here, Winnalee tells Button, that she records everything she learns: her answers to the mysteries of life. But sometimes those mysteries conceal a truth better left buried. And when a devastating secret is suddenly revealed, dividing loyalties and uprooting lives, no one --- from Winnalee and her sister to Button and her family --- will ever be the same.

Click here to read our guide for The Book of Bright Ideas.

LIPSTICK JIHAD by Azadeh Moaveni

Azadeh Moaveni was born in Palo Alto, California, into the lap of an Iranian diaspora community longing for an Iran many thousands of miles away. As far back as she can remember she felt at odds with her tangled identity. College magnified the clash between Iran and America, and after graduating, she moved to Tehran as a journalist. Immediately, Azadeh's exile fantasies dissolved.

Azadeh finds a country that is culturally confused, politically deadlocked, and emotionally anguished. In order to unlock the fundamental mystery of Iran-how nothing perceptibly alters, but everything changes-Azadeh must delve deep into Tehran's edgy underground. Lipstick Jihad is a rare portrait of Tehran, populated by a cast of young people whose exuberance and despair bring the modern reality of Iran to vivid life. Azadeh also reveals her private struggle to build a life in a dark country-the struggle of a young woman of the diaspora, searching for a homeland that may not exist.

Click here to read the guide for Lipstick Jihad.


THE LAST SONG OF DUSK by Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi

When the astonishingly lovely Anuradha moves to Bombay to marry Vardhmaan, a charming young doctor, their life together has all the makings of a fairy tale. But when their firstborn son dies in a terrible accident, tragedy transforms their marriage into a bleak landscape. As the pair starts fresh in a heartbroken old villa by the sea, they are joined by Nandini, a dazzling and devious artist with a trace of leopard blood in her veins. While Nandini flamboyantly takes on Bombay's art scene, the couple attempts to mend their marriage, eventually discovering that real love, mercurial and many-hued, is given and received in silence. Sensuous and electric, achingly moving and wickedly funny, The Last Song of Dusk is a tale of fate that will haunt your heart like an old and beloved song.

Click here to read our guide for The Last Song of Dusk.


Now Available in Paperback --- MAYBE A MIRACLE by Brian Strause and a Special $2 Rebate for Book Clubs

In this disarming debut, Brian Strause has written a vastly entertaining novel about an American family transfixed by a series of mysterious events. From a comfortable suburb of Columbus, Ohio, emerges a story of rebellion, faith and hope, bridging the cultural gap between those who believe in miracles and those who wish they could.

By turns humorous and heartbreaking, personal and sweeping, familiar and extraordinary, Brian Strause's mesmerizing novel takes readers on an unforgettable emotional journey into America's heartland.

There is a special $2 rebate being offered to each member of your reading group for this title. Readers can download this form and print it, and then use it to purchase books for their book club. All the details for the promotion are included on the form.

Click here to read our guide for Maybe a Miracle.



Question of the Month:
Our new discussion question is about summer meeting habits for groups.  How does your group handle summer? Do you meet less often? Are your reading choices different? Weigh in here.

Online Discussion Books:
In the interest of reading together, we have selected some titles that we will be discussing on our message board through August. We know that some groups may not meet during the summer months and for others of you an online book discussion may be a nice way to supplement your regular group reading.

Our selections are below, along with brief descriptions of them and links to where you can log on and talk about them:

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron: This book has been getting raves from book clubs and we have featured it here. You can weigh in on the discussion here.

Big Stone Gap, Big Cherry Holler and Milk Glass Moon known as the Stone Gap Trilogy by Adriana Trigiani. Trigiani has written a new followup book called Return to Big Stone Gap that will be in stores in September. We thought it might be nice for groups to do a catchup or a refresher before this book group-loved author has her new one in stores. You can weigh in on the discussion here.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen: This is one of our favorite new titles and we think it would lend itself to a great discussion. While no guide is available at this time we wanted to give readers a place to chat about it and share their comments. You can weigh in on the discussion here.

Click here to visit our message board.

Read our interviews with librarians here. Read our interviews with book clubs here. Read our interviews with booksellers here. Talks to Librarians, Booksellers and Book Clubs

The following new interviews are currently running on

Book Groups:

The DoubleTime Book Worms
Spiritual Philosophy Book Class
Ladies of Refinement Wednesday Evening Literary Society
The Read Hats
The Bi-State Bookers
The Tecumseh Book Club

Kate Bearce of Mainstreet Books Pella, IA
Diane Van Tassell, San Ramon, CA

Prince William Public Library System, Masassas, VA
Kitchener Public Library, Kitchener, Ontario
The Douglas Library, Canaan, CT

Want your group to be interviewed? Click here.
Read more about Like Dandelion Dust here. Read more about The Memory Keeper's Daughter here. Read more about The Other Woman here.

For Registered Book Clubs - FIVE Special Offers

This month we are running the following contests for Book Groups that have registered with us by July 15th.

Like Dandelion Dust: 10 groups will win 12 copies of Like Dandelion Dust and the opportunity to chat with Karen Kingsbury.

More about Like Dandelion Dust:
Bestselling author Karen Kingsbury delivers a powerful new novel about two parents' love for their child and the surprising lengths they will go to keep their family together. Jack and Molly Campbell enjoyed an idyllic life in their small hometown outside Atlanta with their adopted 4-year-old, Joey. Then they receive the phone call that shatters their world: a social worker delivers the news that Joey's biological father has been released from prison and is ready to start life over --- but with his son.

The Memory Keeper's Daughter: 12 groups will win 12 copies of The Memory Keeper's Daughter and the opportunity to chat with Kim Edwards.

More about The Memory Keeper's Daughter
On a winter's night in 1964, David Henry, while forced by a blizzard to deliver his own twins, makes a split-second decision that will alter his family's life forever. As a doctor, he recognizes that his son, born first, is completely healthy, but he instantly recognizes that his daughter has Down's Syndrome. Meaning to protect his beautiful wife Norah, who is under anesthesia, he asks his nurse to take the baby away to an institution, and never reveal the secret to Norah. Later, David will tell his wife that their infant daughter died in childbirth. 

Stupid and Contagious: 10 groups will win 12 copies of Stupid and Contagious and a chance to chat with Caprice Crane.

More about Stupid and Contagious:
This funny duet pairs two New York City 20-something neighbors: Heaven Albright, whose reversal in fortunes transforms her from über-PR exec to bumbling waitress, and Brady Gilbert, an aspiring music producer with problems navigating the bright lights of the big city. The story of their personal and professional travails unfolds in alternating chapters, appealingly narrated by zany Heaven and wry Brady.The adventures in the book play out from New York to Seattle as the two pursue their idealistic dreams.

Please note: The Guide for Stupid and Contagious will be posted shortly.

The Other Woman: Two groups will win 10 copies of The Other Woman and the chance to chat with Jane Green. 10 more groups will win 10 copies of the book.

More about The Other Woman:
What's the only thing worse than a mother-in-law who can't stand you? One who wants to be your best friend. Ellie thinks she's marrying into the ideal family but soon realizes that her perfect mother-in-law, Linda, can be a perfect monster.

Breakfast With Tiffany: 10 groups will win 12 copies of Breakfast With Tiffany and the opportunity to chat with Edwin John Wintle.

More about Breakfast With Tiffany:
"I was a single, forty-year-old man stuck in intermission, wondering when the next act would start. My life needed that proverbial shot in the arm. What it would get, though, would prove to be more like electroshock therapy." For Edwin John Wintle, the next act begins in an unexpected way --- with a sudden immersion in parenthood. His intelligent but troubled 13-year-old niece, Tiffany, moves from her suburban Connecticut home into his Manhattan apartment, turning both of their lives upside down.
Click here to register your group.

Newest Guides

The following guides are now available on

1906: A Novel by James Dalessandro
All This Heavenly Glory by Elizabeth Crane
The Assassin's Gate: America in Iraq by George Packer
Blue Peninsula by Madge McKeithen
The Book of Bright Ideas by Sandra Kring
The Breakdown Lane by Jacquelyn Mitchard
Cage of Stars by Jacquelyn Mitchard
Christmas, Present by Jacquelyn Mitchard
Claire Knows Best by Tracey Bateman
Eye Contact by Cammie McGovern
Forgivin' Ain't Forgotten' by Mata Elliott
Family and Other Accidents by Shari Goldhagen (Hardcover)
Family and Other Accidents by Shari Goldhagen (Paperback)
Finishing Touches by Deanna Kizis
The Friend Who Got Away by Jenny Offill and Elissa Schappell
The Girl in the Green Glass Mirror by Elizabeth McGregor
Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson
The Last Song of Dusk by Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi
Like Dandelion Dust by Karen Kingsbury
Lipstick Jihad by Azadeh Moaveni
Living on Air by Anna Shapiro
Love in the Present Tense by Catherine Ryan Hyde
The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
Nothing But the Right Thing by Stacy Hawkins Adams
The Orange Blossom Special by Betsy Carter
The Other Woman by Jane Green
The Potluck Club: Trouble's Brewing by Linda Evans Shepherd and Eva Marie Everson
The Prince of Poison by Pamela Kaufman
The Red Carpet by Lavanya Sankaran
Rolling Down Black Stockings: A Passage Out of the Old Order Mennonite Religion by Esther Royer Ayers
Skells: The Midtown Blue Series #3 by F.P. Lione
A Sounding Brass by Shelley Bates
Speak To My Heart by Stacy Hawkins Adams
A Theory of Relativity by Jacquelyn Mitchard
Triangle: A Novel by Katharine Weber


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

Cast of Shadows by Kevin Guilfoile
The Divide by Nicholas Evans
Maybe a Miracle by Brian Strause

Click here to read our newest guides.

Read the guide for Skells here. Read the guide for A Sounding Brass here. Read the guide for Claire Knows Best here.

Christian Guides

The following Christian guides are now available on

A Sounding Brass
by Shelley Bates
Claire Knows Best by Tracey Bateman 
Skells by F.P. Lione


Does your group select lighter reading material in the summer months?

No, but this is a good idea.

Click here to answer the poll.
This Month's Contest: Win 20 Copies of GODS IN ALABAMA by Joshilyn Jackson

A subscription to our newsletter is all you need to be entered in our monthly contest. This month, one lucky reader will win up to 20 copies of Gods in Alabama for his or her entire reading group.

-Click here to read more about Gods in Alabama.

Read contest details here.

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

Happy reading. We'll see you next month.

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

Carol Fitzgerald (

The Book Report Network
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