Skip to main content

February 2009 Newsletter February 2009
Just Read This Book....

Yesterday I did not wear a coat and I loved it. There is something about the hint of spring in February that just puts a little bounce in my step. I am hoping this trend continues next week since my husband is traveling and I am clueless about how to drive the tractor/snowplow. If I have to deal with it, it will resemble some episode of "I Love Lucy." I am sure the lawn will be plowed well and I will be dodging the trees!

I love so many of the titles that we are featuring this month that I am not sure which I want you to read first. I have a line that I use with friends that is "Just read this book." My friend Cathy gets this a lot. She flies...a lot. More than me. She goes to Europe and Asia like I drive to New York. Thus, when I hand her a book, I know I need to keep her entertained for a 6-8 hour flight. It's endless fun going down my shelves trying to pick what she "has" to read now. Last week we were traveling together, something that rarely happens. She woke earlier than me and started reading Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. By the time I was opening my eyes two hours later she was well into the story, which I loved since we then could talk about it. It confirmed my making it one of my Bets On selections. By the way, Jamie Ford has some terrific videos that were shot and enhance the story that you can see here.

Linda Fairstein's Lethal Legacy is set in the New York Public Library. Once you close this one, you will never walk past the lions (named Patience and Fortitude) and look at that building the same way again. I was lucky enough to tour the library on a private tour years ago and saw some amazingly special rare books. Linda gives readers that same experience, and there is a video on her website,, that will get readers inside as well.

Kathryn Stockett's The Help is going to be my latest Bets On selection this week. As I told you last month, I was so caught up in this book over the holidays that I needed to retreat to my room to finish it at one point. There's a podcast interview with Kathryn (I love that spelling by the way; it's my middle name) that you can listen to here that will give you more insight into why this story tugged at her to be written.

We've got soooo many wonderful titles in this lineup that I really could go on and on. My thought for the week: go down the list and just pick one that strikes your fancy and read it. All are endlessly discussion worthy and could make your group meeting lively.

For the record, I have decided that the news on television all seems to be the same story on rewind. And I am a tad bored with the continuous commentary that goes something like this: If you leave your house and buy anything, you are not smart and will end up on a breadline. I am here to share that buying one book this weekend is not going to crumble your economic future, so head to the store and indulge yourself with a book. Maybe even buy two. Then if you feel a continued need to shop once you leave the bookstore, go see Confessions of a Shopaholic. I have not seen this movie yet, but I figure the scene where Becky has her credit card frozen in her freezer will be one that will make the news commentators froth with glee. And when you see all those designer names flashed across the screen, you can reminisce the consumerism that is part of the reason we are where we are now. Consider it a history lesson. 

Last month we started a Facebook fan page for; thanks to all of you who "friended us." I do feel about 16 when I say that! We also are creating community areas on Good Reads, Shelfari and Library Thing over the next few weeks. Each of these social networking sites will have content that relates to book clubs and, and we hope to meet more groups and hear more bookish ideas as we explore these areas further. More to come on this in the weeks and months to come.

Also, later this month we are planning a Reader Survey, our first since 2001. Clearly, a lot has changed since then and we look forward to your participation in this survey where we have a few fun ideas of giveaways to encourage you to do just that. Keep your eye on your mailboxes for this in the next couple of weeks.

One more thing....we are celebrating the release of Very Valentine --- the first novel in Adriana Trigiani’s new trilogy (I love Valentine!) --- with a special contest. One lucky reader will have the opportunity to win a finished copy of Very Valentine, which is now in stores, as well as a Very Valentine poster signed by Adriana with a flourishing signature that bears all her enthusiasm. Click here for the contest details. Read more about Very Valentine here.

Speaking of Valentine's Day, Very Valentine is also one of the featured titles in’s Fourth Annual Valentine’s Day Feature. Here's wishing you hearts, flowers, something deliciously red or chocolate...and time to indulge in a book you love!

Carol Fitzgerald ([email protected])


Hey Book Clubs! Join the Circus!
Enter the Water for Elephants Sweepstakes, sponsored by PARADE Magazine, for a chance to win an exciting trip for you and your book club (maximum five members). You could be whisked off to a mountain getaway weekend in Asheville, North Carolina, where you'll meet and dine with author Sara Gruen. The prize includes two nights lodging at the Inn on Biltmore Estate, round-trip airfare to Asheville, dinner with the author, and signed copies of Water for Elephants! The sweepstakes ends on March 6, 2009.
See official rules and enter today at

"An impressive, bitter, and sweet debut."
-- Lisa See, bestselling author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is a love story about two people who come from totally different worlds. Their story is about the conflicts between generations and cultures and how decades later they can heal the barriers and betrayals that separate them.
Inspired by history and his own family story, Jamie Ford’s debut novel is a perfect read for book clubs and introduces a talented new literary voice.

-Click here to watch an interview with Jamie Ford.
-Click here to watch a video in which Jamie Ford narrates a tour of the Seattle neighborhood where Japanese lives were disrupted at the start of World War II.

Click here to read the guide for Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.

Now Available in Paperback: THINGS I WANT MY DAUGHTERS TO KNOW by Elizabeth Noble
Now available in paperback, this heartfelt novel by bestselling author Elizabeth Noble celebrates family, friends... and the glorious, endless possibilities of life.

When Barbara realizes time is running out, she writes letters to her four daughters, aware that they'll be facing the trials and triumphs of life without her at their side. But how can she leave them when they still have so much growing up to do? By drawing on the wisdom in Barbara's letters, the girls might just find a way to cope with their loss.

Click here to read the guide for Things I Want My Daughters to Know.

CUTTING FOR STONE by Abraham Verghese
From the 1940s to the present; from a convent in India to a cargo ship bound for Yemen; from an operating room in Ethiopia to a hospital in the Bronx: an epic debut novel of doctors and patients, temptation and redemption, home and exile --- and a riveting family story that grabs you from the first page and never lets you go.
Click here to read the guide for Cutting for Stone.

Now Available in Paperback: A PIGEON AND A BOY by Meir Shalev
Now in paperback, the internationally acclaimed Israeli writer’s mesmerizing novel --- two love stories separated by half a century, yet connected by a single wondrous act of devotion. During Israel’s 1948 War of Independence --- when pigeons are still used to deliver battlefield messages --- a gifted young bird handler dispatches one last pigeon moments before his death. The bird carries his extraordinary gift to the girl he has loved since adolescence --- a gift that will bear unexpected fruit half a century later.
Click here to read the guide for A Pigeon and a Boy.

THE WILDERNESS by Samantha Harvey
It’s Jake’s birthday. He is sitting in a small plane, being flown over the landscape that has been the backdrop to his life --- his childhood, his marriage, his work, his passions. Now he is in his mid-60s, and he isn’t quite the man he used to be. He has lost his wife, his son is in prison, and he is about to lose his past. Jake has Alzheimer’s.

Arrestingly understated and wise, The Wilderness is a courageous novel from an extraordinarily gifted writer.

Click here to read the guide for The Wilderness.

Now Available in Paperback: A VERSION OF THE TRUTH by Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack
In the wilds of Topanga Canyon, Cassie Shaw has always felt right at home in the midst of nature, but everywhere else, life seems to be a little harder. At the age of 30, newly single and without a college degree, Cassie is in serious need of a paycheck. So in a desperate move, she lies on her resume when applying for an office job at an elite university. When she finds herself employed by two eccentric professors, Cassie begins to reinvent herself --- and soon encounters some very unexpected consequences.
Click here to read the guide for A Version of the Truth.

LETHAL LEGACY by Linda Fairstein
When Assistant District Attorney Alex Cooper is summoned to Tina Barr’s apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, she finds a neighbor convinced that the young woman was assaulted. But the terrified victim, a conservator of rare books and maps, refuses to cooperate with investigators. Then another woman is found murdered in that same apartment with an extremely valuable book, believed to have been stolen. As Alex pursues the murderer, she is drawn into the strange and privileged world of the Hunt family, major benefactors of the New York Public Library and passionate rare book collectors.

-Click here to see our Suspense/Thriller feature for Linda Fairstein and Lethal Legacy on

Click here to read the guide for Lethal Legacy.

Registered Book Club Offers
For February we have two very special opportunities for Registered Book Groups. Our featured titles this month are Sleepwalking in Daylight by Elizabeth Flock and Shadows of Lancaster County by Mindy Starns Clark. Groups who have registered with us by Monday, February 16th have the chance to win author chats and/or free books. If your group is not registered, click here to register.

Sleepwalking in Daylight by Elizabeth Flock --- Author Chat and Book Giveaway: Three groups will have the opportunity to chat with Elizabeth Flock and receive up to 12 copies of the book.

More About Sleepwalking in Daylight:
Once defined by her career and independence, stay-at-home mom Samantha Friedman's days have been reduced to errands, carpools and suburban gossip. What was an easy decision for Sam years ago has become a nagging awareness that this life was her choice. Now she deals with a husband who shows up for dinner but is too preoccupied for conversation, and a daughter swathed in black clothing and Goth makeup who won’t talk at all.

New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Flock’s novels have been hailed as “haunting” (Booklist) and “tremendously touching” (Kirkus Reviews). With Sleepwalking in Daylight, she perceptively reveals the inner workings of a modern marriage and the complicated mother-daughter relationship with unflinching honesty, delivering her most powerful, provocative story to date.

Shadows of Lancaster County by Mindy Starns Clark --- Book Giveaway: 15 groups will have the opportunity to receive up to 10 copies of the book.

More About Shadows of Lancaster County:
Following up on her extremely popular Gothic thriller, Whispers of the Bayou, Christian author Mindy Starns Clark offers another suspenseful stand-alone mystery full of Amish simplicity, dark shadows and the light of God’s amazing grace.

Anna thought she left the tragedies of the past behind when she moved from Pennsylvania to California, but when her brother vanishes from the genetics lab where he works, Anna has no choice but to head back home. Using skills well-honed in Silicon Valley, she follows the high-tech trail her brother left behind --- a trail that leads from the simple world of Amish farming to the cutting edge of DNA research and gene mapping.

Click here to register your group.

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:

-Susan Rebecca White's Strawberry Pie Recipe
-Susan Rebecca White: The Stuff of Novels
-Kelly Simmons: RUI: Reading Under the Influence
-Book Clubs in the News
-2009: A Year of Change
-Adriana Trigiani on the Today Show
-You Could Dine with Sara Gruen
-"So... What Should We Read Next?"
-Field Trips for Book Clubs
-Join Us on Facebook
-Bleeding on the Page
-Joshua Henkin's Book Club Adventures: The Latest Chapter, December 2008
-Joshua Henkin's Book Club Adventures: The Latest Chapter, December 2008 Part II

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 the link on the blog page.
Click here to read the Blog.

Become a Fan of on Facebook! now has a fan page on Facebook! Since January, we have been joined by almost 300 fans. Here we will feature our daily blogs and put out questions for discussion. We would love you to share pictures of your groups as well as comments on the books that we suggest. While we have a very vibrant message board on the site, we know that many of you like to share your thoughts via Facebook. Note that our daily blogs are linked onto our Facebook page and each month when we do an update we will list our new guides and features there as well! We look forward to seeing you as fans of on Facebook.
Click here to view's new Facebook page.

New Guides Now Available
The following guides are now available on

Between Here and April by Deborah Copaken Kogan
The Bishop's Daughter by Tiffany L. Warren
Coal Black Horse by Robert Olmstead
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
The End of My Addiction by Olivier Ameisen, M.D.
The End of the 19th Century by Eric Larsen
Heart in the Right Place by Carolyn Jourdan
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
The Laws of Harmony by Judith Ryan Hendricks
Lethal Legacy by Linda Fairstein
The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker
The Long Journey Home by Laurel Means
Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
A Pigeon and a Boy by Meir Shalev
Rock Bottom by Michael Shilling
Sima's Undergarments for Women by Ilana Stanger-Ross
Sleepwalking in Daylight by Elizabeth Flock
The Slide by Kyle Beachy
Sundays at Tiffany's by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet
The Temptation of the Night Jasmine by Lauren Willig
This Side of Heaven by Karen Kingsbury
We Take This Man by Candice Dow and Daaimah S. Poole
The Wilderness by Samantha Harvey
Winter in Madrid by C. J. Sansom

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

American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
Killer Heat by Linda Fairstein
The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Things I Want My Daughters to Know by Elizabeth Noble
A Version of the Truth by Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack

We have the following new guides for Christian book groups:

Against All Odds: Heroes of Quantico Series, Book 1 by Irene Hannon
Age Before Beauty: Sister-to-Sister, Book 2 by Virginia Smith
Eve: A Novel of the First Woman by Elissa Elliott
Kiss Me if You Dare: A Patricia Amble Mystery by Nicole Young
Shadows of Lancaster County by Mindy Starns Clark

This Month's Poll
When you love a book, do you readily talk about it with others?

Yes, if they are readers
Yes, whether or not they are readers
I’m not comfortable doing this.
I’m not sure.

Click here to answer the poll.

This Month's Contest Book: HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET by Jamie Ford
Win a copy of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford 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 March 1, 2009. If you are receiving this newsletter in your mailbox, you already are signed up!

More About Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet:
Set during one of the most conflicted and volatile times in American history, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an extraordinary story of commitment and enduring hope. In Henry and Keiko, Jamie Ford has created an unforgettable duo whose story teaches us of the power of forgiveness and the human heart.
Click here to read contest details and rules.


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 ([email protected])

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