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July 2008

ReadingGroupGuides.com Newsletter

July 2008

This Month on ReadingGroupGuides.com

Reading Book Club Style

Special Contest: Win JUST BREATHE by Susan Wiggs for Your Group

Special Contest: Win NO ONE YOU KNOW by Michelle Richmond for Your Group

Special Contest: Win THE GOOD THIEF by Hannah Tinti for Your Group

WHERE THE RIVER ENDS by Charles Martin

Now Available in Paperback: AWAY by Amy Bloom

Now Available in Paperback: HOW TO TALK TO A WIDOWER by Jonathan Tropper

THE WEDNESDAY SISTERS by Meg Waite Clayton

THE SISTER by Poppy Adams

CLOSER TO FINE by Meri Weiss

SO LONG AT THE FAIR by Christina Schwarz

THE GROOM TO HAVE BEEN by Saher Alam

LOVE AS A WAY OF LIFE: Seven Keys to Transforming Every Aspect of Your Life, by Gary Chapman

AMERICAN PRIESTESS: The Extraordinary Story of Anna Spafford and the American Colony in Jerusalem, by Jane Fletcher Geniesse

New Guides Now Available

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Last week I spent some time at the American Library Association Convention in Anaheim, which was a wonderful celebration of books and reading. Librarians are wildly enthusiastic about books and authors --- and they ask smart questions and provoke thoughtful replies when they are at panels and speeches.

As part of the week's programming I attended an interview with Khaled Hosseini, who is one of the best-loved book club authors. I need to get my thoughts from his talk transcribed into a blog. It was one of the most interesting author conversations that I have experienced. I literally sat through it scrawling notes. Here's a confession. As many of you know, I love to knit. When I am at conferences I frequently knit while I am listening to the speaker. As I was walking into the auditorium for his talk I realized I had left my knitting back in my hotel room and there was no time to go back for it. No worries on that. I never would have knitted one stitch. My pen was flying through my notebook the entire time he was speaking. He offered insight into his writing, shared books he has loved and spoke about how he has been working on behalf of refugees around the world. For all of his success, his conversation was both humble and warm. It's an hour I will not soon forget.

I also got to catch up with Masha Hamilton, whose book The Camel Bookmobile has been enjoyed by many groups. She blogged for us about the real-life inspiration for the novel and how book groups in the U.S. have given people in Kenya the gift of the written word, which you can read here. As many of you know this novel is based on the actual camel bookmobiles --- camels carrying books, which is an image that I love. While we were chatting Masha shared that the book-toting camels cost $350, and readers have purchased camels, some in the name of their loved ones, as a tribute. I love this idea. We just may need a Bookreporter.com or ReadingGroupGuides.com camel! On her blog we have a link so you can get involved.

What did I miss at the show? A tour of the bookmobiles that were being shown outside the conference hall. Seriously, I am very sorry that I missed this. I still can hear the hum of the generator for the bookmobile that used to park itself at the end of my street when I was growing up. I loved going up those short steps and finding myself in a bus of books. I wish my own boys could have that experience. I also always wanted to drive the bookmobile. When I was a kid, that seemed like one really terrific job.

This month we are bringing you THREE special contests. You can win copies of Just Breathe by Susan Wiggs (I read this one and loved it; it's Wiggs's best), No One You Know by Michelle Richmond and The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti for your group. Read on for more details.

Speaking of contests, our monthly contest book for July is Where the River Ends by Charles Martin. As longtime readers know, I have been a fan of Charles's work since his first book, The Dead Don't Dance, which I read in an early manuscript. I have been looking forward to sharing Where the River Ends with you for months now as I again read this one in an early manuscript. Charles writes emotion and spins words that will wrap around your heart. In this book the river is as much a character as Doss and Abbie, so you are really feeling a sense of place as you read. There is lots to discuss as well.
For your group to win 20 free copies of this book, all you have to do is sign up for the ReadingGroupGuides.com newsletter by August 1, 2008. If you are receiving this newsletter in your mailbox, you already are signed up! Warning: the story is a tearjerker.

A book that I thoroughly enjoyed last year as a fun read, How to Talk to a Widower by Jonathan Tropper, is just out in paperback. Given the volume that I read, it's just grand when it's a year later and I STILL can remember the character and his story so well. And smile. I love clever things that get books on my radar, so take a look at the book trailer for The Wednesday Sisters here. I feel like once it was done I had a real sense of the story. Nice when that can happen quickly.

Please note that this Friday, July 11th, An Absolute Scandal and Sheer Abandon, by Penny Vincenzi, both of which have been previously spotlighted on this site as terrific book club discusson books, will be our prize titles in our Fourth Annual Beach Bag of Books feature on Bookreporter.com. Beginning on July 18th, Where the River Ends will be spotlighted for a week. I am particularly proud of this contest feature, which
includes many great titles that are perfect reading selections for the summer. Click here to learn more about all of our featured titles.

In our poll this month we ask you to tell us what social networking websites you belong to. Click here to respond. I am on Facebook and Linked In, though I confess that I need to be more faithful about checking in on both. I have noticed that many of my friends are getting onto Facebook and are Linked In, so I see this becoming a more viable way for me to communicate as time goes on. But there seriously are only so many hours in the day! Our tip this month is themed around summer travel. When taking a trip, stop by local booksellers in the towns that you are visiting and ask them what books the groups in their towns are enjoying for their book club discussions. This way you can gauge how other groups might be similar to yours or find new titles to explore.

Our ReadingGroupGuides.com Blog is giving us a chance to talk to you on a regular basis. 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:

-Mary Kay Andrews: Summer Reading
-Patti Callahan Henry: What Book Clubs Offer Authors
-What Works/What Doesn't Work
-Elizabeth Brundage: It's Not Always About the Book
-Am I a Bad Mother?
-Too Many Great Books to Read?
-Men and Books: Quieting the Alpha Male
-Book to Discuss: The Geography of Love
-Chris Bohjalian: Role Reversal


This week I am attending ThrillerFest 2008, the International Thriller Writers Covention here in the city. Then Saturday night I hop on a plane to Orlando for the International Christian Retailing Show. We are working on a plan for outreach to Christian women's ministry groups and organizations with book club selections via our website, FaithfulReader.com, with a program similar to what we do with Registered Book Clubs here. If any of you belong to one of these groups, or attend events that target Christian women, may I ask you to drop me a note at Carol@bookreporter.com? I would love to explore my ideas further with our readers as I flesh it out.

Here's to lots of wonderful July reading. I know I made a list as I looked at these titles, and I hope your list also has some new additions as you read on through this newsletter.

Carol Fitzgerald (Carol@bookreporter.com)

 

Special Contest: Win JUST BREATHE by Susan Wiggs for Your Group

We are celebrating the release of Just Breathe by Susan Wiggs --- a story about life, love and new beginnings --- with a special contest. Ten readers will have the opportunity to each win one advance reading copy of Just Breathe, which will be in stores on September 1st, for their group. Enter between now and Monday, July 28th by filling out the form found here.

More About Just Breathe:
After her marriage abruptly ends, cartoonist Sarah Moon flees to the small northern California coastal town where she grew up --- a place she couldn’t wait to leave. As she comes to terms with her lost marriage, Sarah encounters a man she never expected to meet again: Will Bonner, the high school heartthrob she’d skewered mercilessly in her old comics. But just as her heart is about to reawaken, Sarah discovers she is pregnant --- with her ex’s twins.

-Click here to read the guide for Just Breathe.

 

Click here to read all the contest details.

 

Special Contest: Win NO ONE YOU KNOW by Michelle Richmond for Your Group

We are celebrating the release of No One You Know by Michelle Richmond --- a novel about the stories and lies that strangers, lovers and families tell and the secrets we keep even from ourselves --- with a special contest. Twenty readers will have the opportunity to each win one advance reading copy of No One You Know, which is now available in stores, for their group. Enter between now and Monday, July 28th by filling out the form found here.

More About No One You Know:
Michelle Richmond dazzled readers and critics alike with her luminous novel The Year of Fog. Now Richmond returns with an intensely emotional, multilayered family drama --- a woman’s search for her sister’s killer that spirals into a journey of secrets, revelations and damaged lives.

-Click here to read the guide for No One You Know.

 
Click here to read all the contest details.

 

Special Contest: Win THE GOOD THIEF by Hannah Tinti for Your Group

We are celebrating the release of The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti --- a novel about an orphan’s journey to discover the truth behind his mysterious parentage --- with a special contest. Twenty readers will have the opportunity to each win one advance reading copy of The Good Thief, which will be in stores on August 26th, for their group. Enter between now and Monday, July 28th by filling out the form found here.

More About The Good Thief:
Twelve-year-old Ren is missing his left hand. How it was lost is a mystery that Ren has been trying to solve for his entire life, as well as who his parents are, and why he was abandoned as an infant at Saint Anthony’s Orphanage for boys. He longs for a family to call his own. But then a young man named Benjamin Nab appears, and he may hold the key to not only Ren's future, but to his past as well.

-Click here to read the guide for The Good Thief.

 

Click here to read all the contest details.


 

WHERE THE RIVER ENDS by Charles Martin

He was a fishing guide and struggling artist. She was the beautiful only child of a powerful senator. Yet once Doss Michaels and Abigail Grace Coleman met, they each felt they’d found their true soul mate.

But 10 years into their marriage, when Abbie faces a life-threatening illness, the couple steals away in the middle of the night to embark upon a 130-mile trip down the St. Mary’s River --- a voyage Doss promised Abbie in the early days of their courtship.

 
Click here to read the guide for Where the River Ends.

 

Now Available in Paperback: AWAY by Amy Bloom

Panoramic in scope, Away is the epic and intimate story of young Lillian Leyb, a dangerous innocent, an accidental heroine. When her family is destroyed in a Russian pogrom, Lillian comes to America alone, determined to make her way in a new land. When word comes that her daughter, Sophie, might still be alive, Lillian embarks on a heartbreaking, romantic and dangerous odyssey to find her.

Click here to read the guide for Away.


 
Now Available in Paperback: HOW TO TALK TO A WIDOWER by Jonathan Tropper
When 27-year-old Doug Parker traded in his bachelor pad for a house in the suburbs, complete with a teenaged stepson, he never expected that two years later he would suddenly lose the woman who meant everything to him. Without beautiful, confident Hailey to guide him through the challenges of now becoming a true surrogate father to her son Russ, Doug is on his own to navigate their new course.
 

Click here to read the guide for How to Talk to a Widower.


 

THE WEDNESDAY SISTERS by Meg Waite Clayton

Meet the Wednesday Sisters: Frankie, the newcomer in town; Linda, the athlete; Kath, the Kentucky Debutante; Ally, the quiet one with a few secrets; and Brett, the whip-smart strawberry blonde with some odd quirks of her own. Bonded by a love of literature, the quintet forms a writers circle to express their hopes and dreams through poems, stories and, eventually, books.

The Wednesday Sisters is a literary feast for book lovers that earns a place among those popular works that honor the joyful, mysterious, unbreakable bonds between friends.


-Click here to view a trailer for The Wednesday Sisters.

Click here to read the guide for The Wednesday Sisters.


 

THE SISTER by Poppy Adams

From her lookout in the crumbling mansion that was her childhood home, Ginny watches and waits for her younger sister to arrive. Vivien has not set foot in the house since she left nearly 50 years ago.

As two sisters revisit their shared past, they realize that their recollections differ in essential and unsettling ways. Before long, the deeply buried resentments that have shaped both their lives rise to the surface, and Vivien’s presence threatens to disrupt Ginny’s carefully ordered world.

 
Click here to read the guide for The Sister.

 

CLOSER TO FINE by Meri Weiss

Meri Weiss debuts on the Kensington list with Closer to Fine, an exquisite first novel where a twentysomething woman tries to pull her life together after the death of her older brother from AIDS and her own failed suicide attempt. At once heartbreaking and humorous, Closer to Fine is peopled with fully-realized, dynamic characters and written with stunning eloquence. Full of intense emotion, this novel introduces readers to a brilliant new voice in fiction.
 

Click here to read the guide for Closer to Fine.


 

SO LONG AT THE FAIR by Christina Schwarz

As in Drowning Ruth, Christina Schwarz weaves past and present into a richly textured portrait of the secrets and deceptions that simmer beneath everyday life in a small Midwestern town. With page-turning intensity and in prose at once lush and precise, she beautifully conjures the emotional labyrinth of a marriage on the brink of collapse and proves that no matter how hard we work to stifle them, the secrets of the past refuse to be ignored.
 
Click here to read the guide for So Long at the Fair.

 

THE GROOM TO HAVE BEEN by Saher Alam

Just as Nasr, a young man with a vibrant professional and social life in New York, begins to prepare for an arranged marriage, he starts to suspect that his true love has been within his reach his entire life --- a girl named Jameela who he has known since childhood. Feeling trapped, Nasr contemplates a drastic escape. But in the wake of 9/11, new fears and old prejudices threaten to stand between him and the promise of happiness.
 
Click here to read the guide for The Groom to Have Been.

 

LOVE AS A WAY OF LIFE: Seven Keys to Transforming Every Aspect of Your Life, by Gary Chapman

In his first major work since the publication of his phenomenal bestseller The Five Love Languages, Dr. Chapman delivers a powerful plan for whole-life happiness, with simple yet intensive exercises and wisdom for finding the life you have always wanted. Memorable real-life stories and inspiring advice make this an ideal book to share with others, fostering meaningful conversations about the incredible possibilities that emerge when love becomes a habit.
 
Click here to read the guide for Love as a Way of Life.

 

AMERICAN PRIESTESS: The Extraordinary Story of Anna Spafford and the American Colony in Jerusalem, by Jane Fletcher Geniesse

Written with flair and insight, American Priestess provides a fascinating exploration of the seductive power of evangelicalism and raises questions about the manipulation of religion to serve personal goals. A powerful narrative, the story sweeps through the dramatic collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the establishment of the British Mandate, and finally the founding of Israel where a house in East Jerusalem, now the American Colony Hotel, stands as an exemplar of beauty and comfort, despite its turbulent history.
 

Click here to read the guide for American Priestess.


 

New Guides Now Available

The following guides are now available on ReadingGroupGuides.com:

American Priestess: The Extraordinary Story of Anna Spafford and the American Colony in Jerusalem by Jane Fletcher Geniesse
At First Sight by Stephen J. Cannell
Away by Amy Bloom
Closer to Fine by Meri Weiss
December by Elizabeth Hartley Winthrop
Domestic Affairs by Eileen Goudge
The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti
The Groom to Have Been by Saher Alam
July and August by Nancy Clark
Just Breathe by Susan Wiggs
Love as a Way of Life: Seven Keys to Transforming Every Aspect of Your Life by Gary Chapman
No One You Know by Michelle Richmond
Rabbit in the Moon by Deborah and Joel Shlian
The Sister by Poppy Adams
Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian
So Long at the Fair by Christina Schwarz
Traveling Light by Katrina Kittle
Where the River Ends by Charles Martin
Without a Backward Glance by Kate Veitch

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


Black & White by Dani Shapiro
Franca's Story: Survival in World War II Italy by Diane Kinman
Here if You Need Me: A True Story by Kate Braestrup
How to Talk to a Widower by Jonathan Tropper


We have the following new guide for Christian book groups:

She Always Wore Red: Fairlawn Series #2
by Angela Hunt


 

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 TheBookReportNetwork.com:


Bookreporter.com, AuthorsOnTheWeb.com, FaithfulReader.com, AuthorYellowPages.com, Teenreads.com, and Kidsreads.com.

Carol Fitzgerald (Carol@bookreporter.com)

The Book Report Network
250 W. 57th Street - Suite 1228
New York, New York 10107