Skip to main content

May 2010 Newsletter May 2010
Quick Links to Features on

Ten Years!

Happy May...though I still am wondering WHERE April went; it flew by! May means that is celebrating its 10th Anniversary --- WHERE did those years go? --- and we are going to be celebrating in a VERY big way. Look for a special newsletter from us next week where we share our exciting anniversary plans.

As we hit this milestone, we’re curious about when you first heard about the site. In this month’s poll let us know when you found by answering our question: “When did you discover the site?”

We are hosting three contests throughout May. The first is for 100 readers to win an advance copy of Dinaw Mengestu’s How to Read the Air, about an immigrant family’s struggles to adjust in America. Mengestu became a book club favorite when he released The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears a few years ago, earning him rave reviews. This will be one of the most anticipated titles of the fall as it’s due in stores October 14th. Click here to enter.

A lucky 100 readers will also have the chance to win an advance copy of Mark T. Mustian’s The Gendarme. This love story, set in both America and Turkey throughout the 20th century, deals with a lot of the turbulent politics of Turkey, and shows that love can conquer all. The Gendarme is due in stores September 2nd, but you can win an advance copy by entering here.

Our third contest book is a Young Adult title that I just absolutely loved, Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. It’s about a very popular high school girl and her friends (we ALL knew girls like them) and how their actions in one day spin out of control to some horrific consequences. That’s chapter one. Now hit rewind six times, and each chapter takes on a new look with a few twists, which show how subtle differences in actions bring different reactions. For the record, these ultra-cool girls are every high school girl’s nightmare, but also totally relatable.

I was engaged in it right from the start. One of the women in the office read it and felt the same way, and for a few days there I joked that we were in a book group of two talking about it. I had the pleasure of having dinner with Lauren in San Jose in February, and I laughed reading the inscription in my book where she referenced nearly falling comatose from the chocolate desserts that night. Many Young Adult books make excellent crossover titles to the adult market, and this definitely is one of them. We have 50 hardcover copies of Before I Fall to give away by entering here. As a bonus, for our registered readers, we will have three author chats with Lauren Oliver available. If you’re not one of our registered readers, you can join here.

In late April I had a wonderful time at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. The Friday before the Festival, I had a lovely lunch with Lisa See at my hotel; we were thrilled to find fish tacos on the menu as we had dined on those in the Caymans a few years ago. Lisa shared stories from her months of traveling and meeting readers for her tour for the paperback release of Shanghai Girls, which took her across the country. We had great fun comparing the stores that we both have visited and talking about how interesting it is to meet readers as we travel. She’s working on the follow-up to Shanghai Girls and is so excited about it. I never quiz authors on what they are writing since I know ideas germinate before they can be shared, but she clearly is loving writing it, which means we should be in for a treat.

At the Festival, among the authors I got to see was Erica Bauermeister (whose The School of Essential Ingredients made me want to cook and have a book discussion), Pamela Ribon (I had read her book, Going in Circles, a few weeks ago) and Karen Stabiner (whose novel Getting In about the college admission process should be required reading for all hyper high school parents). They weighed in on how their books are about forging ahead. I love how you can watch different authors play off each other at events like this.

I also moseyed over to hear the aforementioned Lisa See and her mother, Carolyn. What’s interesting here is that I have seen them speak together on at least three occasions, but they never repeat stories and they always have a lively conversation. I loved how they talked here about how for them writing happens without a lot of pomp and circumstance. They told a story about writing a book together right after Lisa gave birth to her first son. They passed the baby back and forth as they each wrote, knowing they were sharing two roles --- writer and co-caregiver --- right then. They clearly just love writing and the joy of the craft. They have written a Mother's Day blog piece for us that you can read here.

I also went to an event where Herman Wouk was interviewed by Tim Rutten, who clearly is a scholar of Wouk’s work. Wouk is one of my favorite authors, and just seeing his name made me want to re-read Marjorie Morningstar, The Winds of War and War and Remembrance. As he made his way onto the stage, flashbulbs went off and he benignly smiled from the stage. While I would have loved to hear him talk only about his earlier works, he also talked about his latest book, The Language God Talks: On Science and Religion. He wove in such wonderful stories of his life that I knew I was having one of those literary moments that you will reach back and grab in the future.

Speaking of Wouk, there is a BIG book, Rich Boy, coming in on August 2nd from Sharon Pomerantz that reminded me very much of my reaction when I read Marjorie Morningstar, where I dropped into Marjorie’s world. The same thing happened here with Robert Vishniak, who spends his life trying to escape a past that he is not proud of as he infiltrates the most elite social circles. It takes place over four decades, and the story is rich and full of detail. Pomerantz worked on it for 10 years, and her attention to the craft is evident. There were none of the dull spots that often plague a book of this size; it moves.

As always, our newsletter subscribers are automatically entered to win 20 copies of a title just for simply receiving and reading the newsletter. This month we’re offering copies of The Family Man by Elinor Lipman. She’s probably a familiar name to many book clubs, and if you’re lucky, your group may receive 20 copies of the paperback edition, available in stores now. And please share any interesting book group news for our blog with Contributing Editor Dana Barrett at [email protected].

On the homepage, we have some book-themed items to give away that would be perfect for groups. We have two different reading journals --- My Bibliofile and Reading Journal --- available for you to track your favorites and/or keep a group log. We also have the Lit Wit trivia deck, which is loaded with fun, informative book facts. Lastly, there’s Gourmet Game Night, a cookbook geared toward book clubs, bridge clubs, knitting clubs and the like with simple recipes to keep everyone happy and full during your discussion. You can win all four prizes here. The contest ends May 12th at noon ET, so enter to win now!

This year at BookExpo America (BEA) marks the first time that book group leaders are invited to enjoy the industry’s largest trade show. This year’s show is being held at the Javits Center in New York City from May 25-27th and features a variety of floor events, lectures, author signings and so on. It truly is the book world’s marquee event. I’ll be moderating an event on new fall titles on Wednesday at 10AM. Please do sign up fast if you’d like to make the trip, as space is limited! Click here for details on the show, and click here for pricing information. If you are traveling into town, be sure to check out the terrific hotel deals that are available here. I really hope to see you there!

Looking forward to seeing Emily Giffin during her New York appearance next week to promote Heart of the Matter, out May 11th, which we're featuring below. You can also click here to see our current Women's Fiction feature on Emily and Heart of the Matter. I loved this book, and it gives readers a lot to think about --- and discuss.

Wishing all our readers who are moms a Happy Mother’s Day. If your family needs hints on what you might like to celebrate, peruse the Mother’s Day feature that we have on with 36 terrific mom-friendly titles. And our Mother’s Day blog pieces from authors and their mothers that you can read here are making my dream of celebrating Mother’s Day for a MONTH come true. You can read pieces from authors such as Mary and Carol Higgins Clark, Kathy and Kerry Reichs, Sandra and Ryan Brown, Kelly Corrigan, Lisa Gardner, Cathleen Schine and legal thriller author Robert Dugoni, among the 30-plus authors who contributed here. And we still have pieces on tap from Emily Giffin, Janet and Alex Evanovich, Sandra Dallas, and political analyst and author Cokie Roberts. Also, our Coming Soon feature has been updated recently to help your group plan for the summer months and even into the fall! Just scroll or jump to the month you're looking for.

Before I close this newsletter, I wanted to acknowledge any of our readers in the Nashville area and extend my concern to you with the recent flooding in that area. The media has been woefully remiss in covering this tragedy, but from comments from my friends on Facebook and other social media, I know the destruction has been horrific. Our thoughts are with you. The Book Report Network, the parent company of, has longstanding ties with the Nashville area. Hatch Showprint actually designed the company logo way back in 1995 when we first launched.

See you next week with our anniversary news…for now, read on….

Carol Fitzgerald ([email protected])

Click here for information about BookExpo America.

Special Contest: Win an Advance Copy of HOW TO READ THE AIR by Dinaw Mengestu for Your Group

We are celebrating the October 14th release of How to Read the Air by Dinaw Mengestu --- a family saga of African immigrants --- with a special contest. 100 readers will have the opportunity to each win one advance copy of How to Read the Air for their group. The deadline for entries is Wednesday, June 2nd at noon ET.

More about How to Read the Air:
Dinaw Mengestu’s first novel, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, earned him comparisons to Bellow, Fitzgerald and Naipaul, and garnered ecstatic critical praise for its haunting depiction of the immigrant experience in America. Now he enriches the themes that defined his debut in a novel that follows two generations of an immigrant family.

-Click here for the reading group guide.

Click here to read all the contest details.

Special Contest: Win an Advance Copy of THE GENDARME by Mark T. Mustian for Your Group
We are celebrating the September 2nd release of The Gendarme by Mark T. Mustian --- a novel of love triumphing over politics and prejudice --- with a special contest. 100 readers will have the opportunity to each win one advance copy of The Gendarme for their group. The deadline for entries is Wednesday, June 2nd at noon ET.

More about The Gendarme:
In this haunting, deeply moving novel, an old man comes face-to-face with his past and sets out to find the love of his life and beg her forgiveness. Alternating between Turkey at the dawn of the 20th century and Americas in the 1990s, The Gendarme shows how love can overcome nationalities and politics, and how the human spirit fights to survive in the face of hopelessness. It is a transcendent novel.

-Click here for the reading group guide.
Click here to read all the contest details.

Special Contest and Registered Book Club Promotion: BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver

We are celebrating the release of Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver --- a young adult bestselling high school drama that will surely resonate with adults --- with a special contest. 50 readers will have the opportunity to each win one copy of Before I Fall, which is in stores now, for their group. The deadline for entries is Wednesday, June 2nd at noon ET.

More about Before I Fall:
What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? And how far would you go to save your own life? High schooler Samantha Kingston has it all: a desirable boyfriend, a closeknit circle of friends, and the first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it turns out to be her last.

-Click here for the reading group guide.
-Click here to read all the contest details.

For May we have a very special opportunity for Registered Book Groups. Groups who have registered with us by Tuesday, May 18th will have the chance to win a chat with Lauren Oliver and copies of Before I Fall. If your group is not registered, click here to register.


The bestselling author of Something Blue, Something Borrowed, Baby Proof and Love the One You’re With returns with her latest. In alternating, pitch-perfect points of view, Emily Giffin creates a moving, luminous story of good people caught in untenable circumstances. Each being tested in ways they never thought possible. Each questioning everything they once believed. And each ultimately discovering what truly matters most.

-Click here for the reading group guide.
-Click here to see our Women’s Fiction feature for Emily Giffin and Heart of the Matter on

Click here to read the guide for Heart of the Matter.

PRIVATE LIFE by Jane Smiley
Private Life is a beautiful evocation of a woman’s inner world: of the little girl within the hopeful bride, of the young woman filled with yearning, and of the faithful wife who comes to harbor a dangerous secret. But it is also a heartbreaking portrait of marriage and the mysteries that endure even in lives lived side by side; a wondrously evocative historical panorama; and, above all, a masterly, unforgettable novel from one of our finest storytellers.
Click here to read the guide for Private Life.


A tour de force of historical improvisation and vocal acrobatics, Peter Carey’s new novel looks at post-revolutionary France and America through the eyes of two unforgettable narrators: Olivier and Parrot. The result is a vivid counterpoint and two wildly divergent perspectives on the same tumultuous period. It is also the story of a most unlikely friendship between a French lord and an English servant.

Click here to read the guide for Parrot and Olivier in America.

Now Available in Paperback: THE CROWNING GLORY OF CALLA LILY PONDER by Rebecca Wells

When small town Louisiana girl Calla Lily Ponder encounters sweet, sexy, succulent love on the banks of the La Luna River, she thinks her future with Tuck LeBlanc is a given. But when he disappears into the Ivy League world that she will never be a part of, she must make her own way. Using the gifts of healing, which her mother gave her, Calla leaves the familiarity of her hometown and heads to the untamed city of New Orleans, where love and adventure and beauty school help her magical destiny unfold.


Click here to read the guide for The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder.



Aspiring writer Beth Hayes craves independence as a recent college grad. But her notions of travel, graduate study, and writing the great American novel will have to be postponed. With her mother leaving to fulfill her own dreams in Paris, and her Aunt Maggie, Uncle Grant and stepfather moving to California, Beth is elected by her elders to house-sit the Island Gamble, and she wonders: Will the ghosts of the Island be watching over her?
Click here to read the guide for Return to Sullivans Island.

A THREAD SO THIN by Marie Bostwick

New York Times bestselling author Marie Bostwick is back with A Thread So Thin, revisiting the popular town, quilt shop and characters from her Cobbled Court series, for a timeless tale of friendship, love, and the choices we must make in their name.


Click here to read the guide for A Thread So Thin.


Julie Orringer’s astonishing first novel, eagerly awaited since the publication of her heralded bestselling short-story collection, How to Breathe Underwater, is a grand love story set against the backdrop of Budapest and Paris, an epic tale of three brothers whose lives are ravaged by war, and the chronicle of one family’s struggle against the forces that threaten to annihilate it.


Click here to read the guide for The Invisible Bridge.

WATERMARK: A Novel of the Middle Ages, by Vanitha Sankaran

Watermark is an atmospheric and compelling debut about the search for identity, the power of self-expression, and value of the written word. Set in France in 1320, this historical novel centers on Auda, the mute-born daughter of a papermaker in a small French village, who is forced to shun the daylight in her village, but who eventually finds solace and escape in the wonder of the written word.


Click here to read the guide for Watermark.


Jessica Jiji’s Sweet Dates in Basra is a compelling, poignant and unforgettable tale of friendship and family, set in Iraq during the Second World War. A dramatic departure from Jiji’s previous novel, Diamonds Take Forever, Sweet Dates in Basra brilliantly captures the atmosphere of a volatile Middle East during the previous century and pays tribute to the lost traditions of a once-idyllic world.


Click here to read the guide for Sweet Dates in Basra.

LIFE AFTER YES by Aidan Donnelley Rowley

A young woman deals with the aftermath of her father’s death while she struggles to commit to a future with her fiancé in Life After Yes, the poignant, wry and very accomplished debut novel from Aidan Donnelley Rowley. A story of hope and light in the darkness, newcomer Rowley has captured all the angst and pain of truly becoming an adult, and has done so with unusual heart and grace.


Click here to read the guide for Life After Yes.

New Guides Now Available

The following guides are now available on

by Jean Hanff Korelitz: An admissions officer at Princeton reconsiders her role after meeting a talented yet troubled teenager who doesn’t fit the university’s traditional standards.
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver: A popular high school girl is given seven chances to relive her final day in this young adult bestseller that will certainly resonate with adults.
Black Water Rising by Attica Locke: This Orange Prize-nominated debut follows a struggling lawyer who witnesses a murder, placing him and his pregnant girlfriend in peril.
Boy Alone: A Brother’s Memoir by Karl Taro Greenfield: This award-winning journalist chronicles his own childhood with his older, autistic brother.
The Cradle by Patrick Somerville: A father-to-be thinks he’s on a fool’s errand to recover an antique cradle, but the quest brings him closer to his wife’s family and his own feelings of fatherhood.
The Exodus Quest by Will Adams: Fact and fiction collide in Egypt in this page-turning follow-up to The Alexander Cipher.
The Family Man by Elinor Lipman: A man reconnects with his estranged stepdaughter, discovering paternal instincts he never knew existed, in Elinor Lipman’s 10th novel.
Four Freedoms by John Crowley: Employees at an American aircraft factory during World War II confront their role in history, the shifting global landscape, and each other.
The Gendarme by Mark T. Mustian: An old man comes face-to-face with his past and sets out to find the love of his life and beg her forgiveness.
Genesis by Bernard Beckett: A student hopes to gain entrance to a prestigious academy while studying a notorious rebel of America’s past in this dystopian novel with a twist.
God Never Blinks: 50 Lessons for Life’s Little Detours by Regina Brett: The popular newspaper columnist offers wit and wisdom for detailing with life’s twists and turns.
Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin: Plastic surgeon Nick Russo is torn between his idyllic life with his wife, Tessa, and the attraction he feels toward Valerie, the mother of one of his patients.
Holy Ghost Corner by Michele Andrea Bowen: A spinster gives love one last chance with the playboy nephew of a friend.
The Horse Boy: A Memoir of Healing by Rupert Isaacson: A journalist chronicles his son’s life with autism and the special role horses play in the healing and learning process.
The Host by Stephenie Meyer: The international bestselling author of the Twilight series tells the story of an alien love triangle that plays out in a host body during an invasion.
How to Read the Air by Dinaw Mengestu: From prize-winning international literary star Dinaw Mengestu, author of The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, comes a searing and powerful story of one man’s search for redemption.
The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer: A Jewish architecture student is forced to return to his native Hungary along with his girlfriend at the beginning of World War II.
John the Revelator by Peter Murphy: Two boys from different social classes come of age in Ireland, forever linked by two tragic events.
Life After Yes by Aidan Donnelley Rowley: A bride-to-be finds herself having an existential crisis on the eve of her wedding without her father, a 9/11 victim, there to walk her down the aisle.
A Long Long Time Ago & Essentially True by Brigid Pasulka: Brigid Pasulka’s debut weaves together two stories of love and honor before and after the occupation of Poland during World War II.
The Long Song by Andrea Levy: Recounting the Jamaican slave uprising of 1832, Andrea Levy’s novel examines the relationships between slaves, masters, class and race.
Men and Dogs by Katie Crouch: Her life in turmoil, a thirtysomething woman flees to her hometown of Charleston, S.C., to make peace with her past and plot her future.
My Abandonment by Peter Rock: Inspired by a true story and told through the startlingly sincere voice of its young narrator, Caroline, My Abandonment is a riveting journey into life at the margins and a mesmerizing tale of survival and hope.
Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey: In this vivid and visceral work of historical fiction, two-time Booker Prize winner Peter Carey imagines the experiences of Alexis de Tocqueville, the great French political philosopher and author of Democracy in America.
The Possessed by Elif Batuman: The true but unlikely stories of lives devoted --- absurdly! melancholically! beautifully! --- to the Russian classics.
Private Life by Jane Smiley: The Pulitzer Prize–winning author offers a cold-eyed view of the compromises required by marriage while also providing an intimate portrait of life in the Midwest and West during the years 1883–1942.
Return to Sullivans Island by Dorothea Benton Frank: A recent college graduate tends to her vacationing mother’s home while she plots her next step in life.
Sweet Dates in Basra by Jessica Jiji: An Arab woman develops strong feelings towards the son of a privileged Jewish family during the Iraqi civil war of 1941.
Thief by Maureen Gibbon: After placing a personal ad in the newspaper, Suzanne receives a letter from an inmate with whom she feels a strong connection, despite his checkered past.
Three Wishes: A True Story of Good Friends, Crushing Heartbreak, and Astonishing Luck on Our Way to Love and Motherhood by Carey Goldberg, Beth Jones and Pamela Ferdinand: Three best friends recount their struggles in love and motherhood after making an unlikely pact.
A Thread So Thin by Marie Bostwick: The latest in Marie Bostwick’s Cobbled Court series finds Liza considering a relationship after a surprise proposal from her boyfriend, Garrett.
To Kill a Mockingbird: 50th Anniversary Edition by Harper Lee: This special edition celebrates Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning classic of race, class and justice in a small Southern town.
Tomorrow River by Lesley Kagen: Set during the summer of '69 in rural Virginia, Lesley Kagen's stellar third novel chronicles the dramatic changes in the lives of 11-year-old Shenny Carmody and her twin sister, Woody, nearly a year after their mother's disappearance
The Turtle Catcher by Nicole Lea Helget: A young woman with a secret finds comfort with her mentally-challenged neighbor only to watch him be savagely beaten by her brothers.
Watermark: A Novel of the Middle Ages by Vanitha Sankaran: A mute albino girl and her father find publishing success in medieval France, until her radical views draw the interest of a variety of suppressors.

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

A Change in Altitude
by Anita Shreve: Newlyweds embark on a climbing expedition to Kenya, where their relationship is tested in the wake of a tragic accident.
South of Broad by Pat Conroy: Against the sumptuous backdrop of Charleston, South Carolina, South of Broad gathers a unique cast of sinners and saints as told by beloved novelist Pat Conroy.
Valeria's Last Stand by Marc Fitten: A grumpy woman gains a new perspective on life in her small town after beginning a relationship with a widower potter, who finds inspiration with the new romance.

The following guides are now available for Christian book groups:

The House on Sugar Plum Lane by Judy Duarte: A woman learns of her family’s past and reconnects with an elderly aunt after coincidentally renting the aunt’s former Victorian home.
The Last Christian by David Gregory: In the year 2088, Christian missionary Abigail Caldwell leaves her New Guinea village to seek help for fellow villagers, who have all been stricken by a mysterious disease.
Rooms by James L. Rubart: A young tycoon inherits a strange mansion from an uncle he hardly knew only to discover that his new abode possesses strange powers.
Sworn to Protect: Call of Duty, Book 2 by DiAnn Mills: A widowed border patrol agent uncovers a conspiracy regarding her husband’s death, a violent cartel and immigration activists.


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