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September 2010 Newsletter September 2010
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Happy September: The Book Group Version of Happy New Year!

For many book groups, September is like saying Happy New Year since some of you take the summer off. We also know that many of you start your year of selections in September. So welcome back, and have we got a lineup for you!

September features one of the largest guide updates we’ve done recently with more than 40 new guides available this month, including Freedom, the much-anticipated new novel from Jonathan Franzen. We’re also featuring Her Daughter’s Dream by Francine Rivers, the conclusion to her two-book historical fiction epic that began earlier this year with Her Mother’s Hope. Francine really weaves together the mother-daughter relationships in a family over several decades against some major historical events. I read both books and enjoyed them enormously. I love that readers will be able to continue this story so quickly; love these books were published just six months apart.

This month we’re featuring Her Daughter’s Dream as our newsletter contest book. One lucky subscriber will win 20 copies of the book just for subscribing to the monthly newsletter. If you know someone who should be receiving our monthly newsletter, have them sign up here and they will automatically be entered to win the 20 copies. If that friend wins, we hope they share!

Another great title we’re featuring this month is Daphne Kalotay’s debut novel, Russian Winter, about a former ballerina in the renowned Bolshoi Ballet who begins auctioning her jewelry collection, a process that triggers a flood of memories of her career, romances, betrayals and Russia’s rich history. There’s lush historical detail and writing throughout, and from all I have read, this is a novel you can just get totally lost in. I have it on my stack to read. Daphne released a collection of short stories, Calamity and Other Stories, in 2006.

One more to add to your list is Carol Cassella’s Healer, which is my latest Bets On pick over on Last fall, we featured Carol’s Oxygen as one of our registered reader contests and got such positive feedback from many of you. I read Healer earlier this spring and absolutely loved it. I’ve also been lucky to meet Carol during a trip to the Pacific Northwest earlier this year and when she recently visited New York City. Healer is in stores now. Also, be sure to check out August's Bets On picks: Stiltsville by Susanna Daniel and Rich Boy by Sharon Pomerantz. And please note that I already have a number of titles slated to add to my Bets On list for the rest of 2010 and into 2011!

I want to get Michael J. Sandel’s Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? on your radar. It’s not the typical book for us to spotlight here, but when I read it, I found myself thinking that book groups could spark some real conversation with this. Often when we see a controversial topic, we see what we view as “the right way.” Here, Sandel instead looks at many “right ways” to look at a question. If you really want to start a discussion in your group, this may be the title for you as it offers some very serious philosophical questions worthy of debate. The book is taken from Sandel’s class at Harvard, where it’s become so popular that alumni actually participate via webcast. Many of the classes are archived here as episodes. On November 7th at 5 PM EST, everyone will be able to participate in a special web event where you will be able to interact with Sandel and the others who are participating by voting on screen and other features. You can read more details here. Justice is now available in paperback, and could be a chance for your group to explore a very different book.

Our registered readers are eligible for three exclusive contests. One group will win books and a chat with Jeffrey Zaslow, author of the New York Times bestseller The Girls from Ames, about a group of friends who were born and raised in rural Ames, Iowa and remain just as close as they were then. Jeffrey is also the co-author of the New York Times No. 1 bestsellers The Last Lecture with Randy Pausch and Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters with Capt. Chesley B. Sullenberger. As an added bonus, the winning group will received signed copies of The Girls from Ames.

Three groups will win an author chat with Tatiana de Rosnay, author of A Secret Kept, as well as copies of the book. Tatiana scored a worldwide hit with Sarah’s Key, which really found an audience with book clubs. A Secret Kept, which will be in stores September 14th, is a family saga mystery that starts innocently enough with a brother and sister celebrating a 40th birthday. However, on the ride home from the party, a long-buried family secret comes to light that leads to a car crash and a series of strange occurrences for the siblings.

Our third contest for our registered readers is for Mindy Starns Clark’s Secrets of Harmony Grove. Fifteen groups will win copies of the book, which is about a bed-and-breakfast proprietor in a sleepy Amish town who finds herself under investigation by the FBI. Just as she pleads for innocence, the body of her ex-boyfriend is discovered on her property.

I spent 10 days on vacation around Labor Day on the Outer Banks and then at The Homestead in Hot Springs, VA once Hurricane Earl dropped in. I blogged about nine terrific books that I read. You can read that blog here; know that MANY will be excellent book club discussion books!

Our 10th Anniversary Contest ended, and we thank everyone who participated. We’re compiling the entries, titles and information, and promise to have a definitive list of Top 10 Discussion Books in the weeks to come. We’ll also be highlighting titles in various genres. It has been a lot of fun to see the different lists with a lot of familiar books and some we’re not familiar with at all. I know I’ve definitely marked a few titles to go do some homework about. We’ll also be picking 50 lucky winners to receive a $200 gift card to the store of their choice, or to donate the prize to a local library, school or charity. Keep your fingers crossed!

Last month we asked all of you: Does your book club ever take a group trip to see a movie that is based on a book? More than half responded that your groups do take a field trip to the movies for select titles. What a fun way to spend a meeting and then compare how the book was better! Our latest poll below asks: Has your book club ever read and discussed a Young Adult novel? I’m really excited to see the results here as more and more original, creative and just flat-out wonderful books are coming out of the Young Adult genre. Sure, they may be in that section in your store, but there’s just as much to enjoy as an adult. You can vote here. Also, for those of you in the mood to vote, we have a fun poll question running until September 24th on asking which author you would like to see on "Dancing with the Stars". Vote here!

Lastly, as I’ve mentioned in previous newsletters, we’re seriously considering launching a website for readers between the ages of 17 and 30 as we feel it’s an underserved market in the book world. We’re gathering and compiling as much data as possible to help us provide the best site possible. If you fall into this age range, or know an avid reader who does, we would greatly appreciate you sharing our CO-20 Survey.

Here’s to a great September of reading…and Happy New Year to our Jewish readers!

Carol Fitzgerald ([email protected])


HER DAUGHTER'S DREAM by Francine Rivers

In the dramatic conclusion to the New York Times bestseller Her Mother’s Hope, Francine Rivers delivers a rich and deeply moving story about the silent sorrows that can tear a family apart and the grace and forgiveness that can heal even the deepest wounds. Spanning from the 1950s to present day, Her Daughter’s Dream is the emotional final chapter of an unforgettable family saga about the sacrifices every mother makes for her daughter --- and the very nature of unconditional love.

Click here to read the guide for Her Daughter's Dream.

WOLF HALL by Hilary Mantel
The 2009 Man Booker Prize winner recreates the ruthless arena of King Henry VIII’s court, where only one man dares to gamble his life to win the king’s favor and ascend to the heights of political power. England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of 20 years, and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him. The quest for the king’s freedom destroys his adviser, the brilliant Cardinal Wolsey, and leaves a power vacuum. Enter idealistic, charming and cunning Thomas Cromwell.
Click here to read the guide for Wolf Hall.

In a historic farmhouse outside Boston, 70-year-old Percy Darling is settling happily into retirement: reading novels, watching old movies, and swimming naked in his pond. His routines are disrupted, however, when he is persuaded to let a locally beloved preschool take over his barn. As Percy sees his rural refuge overrun by children, parents and teachers, he must reexamine the solitary life he has made in the three decades since the sudden death of his wife. No longer can he remain aloof from his community, his two grown daughters, or, to his shock, the precarious joy of falling in love.
Click here to read the guide for The Widower's Tale.

RUSSIAN WINTER by Daphne Kalotay
A mysterious jewel holds the key to a life-changing secret, in this breathtaking tale of love and art, betrayal and redemption. When she decides to auction her remarkable jewelry collection, Nina Revskaya, once a great star of the Bolshoi Ballet, believes she has finally drawn a curtain on her past. Instead, the former ballerina finds herself overwhelmed by memories of her homeland and of the events, both glorious and heartbreaking, that changed the course of her life half a century ago.
Click here to read the guide for Russian Winter.

Mercy Land has made some unexpected choices for a young woman in the 1930s. The sheltered daughter of a traveling preacher, she chooses to leave her rural community to move to nearby Bay City on the warm, gulf waters of southern Alabama. There she finds a job at the local paper and spends seven years making herself indispensible to old Doc Philips, the publisher and editor. Then she gets a frantic call at dawn --- it’s the biggest news story of her life, and she can’t print a word of it.
Click here to read the guide for The Miracle of Mercy Land.

England, 1554. In the wake of the failed Wyatt Rebellion, a vengeful Queen Mary has ordered all conspirators captured and executed. Among the imprisoned is her own sister, 21-year-old Princess Elizabeth. Though she protests her innocence, Elizabeth’s brave stand only angers Mary more. Riveting, masterfully written, and rich in intricate details, The Queen’s Captive brings one of history’s most fascinating and treacherous periods to vibrant, passionate life.
Click here to read the guide for The Queen's Captive.


Have you ever asked yourself, "What if?" Here, four women face the decisions of their lifetimes in this stirring and unforgettable novel of love, loss, friendship and family. Anna, Cami, Amy and Maeve are forced to confront their pasts and longtime secrets in the quaint, idyllic town they’ve all called home. However, leaving the past behind is easier said than done.


Click here to read the guide for The Life You've Imagined.


THE WAVE: In Pursuit of Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean, by Susan Casey

From Susan Casey, bestselling author of The Devil’s Teeth, comes an astonishing book about colossal, ship-swallowing rogue waves and the surfers who seek them out. In this mesmerizing account, the exploits of Hamilton and his fellow surfers are juxtaposed against scientists’ urgent efforts to understand the destructive powers of waves --- from the tsunami that wiped out 250,000 people in the Pacific in 2004 to the 1,740-foot wave that recently leveled part of the Alaskan coast. Like Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air, The Wave brilliantly portrays human beings confronting nature at its most ferocious.
Click here to read the guide for The Wave.

CHANGING SHOES: Getting Older --- NOT OLD --- with Style, Humor, and Grace, by Tina Sloan
After 26 years starring as nurse Lillian Raines on the hit soap opera “Guiding Light,” Tina Sloan knows a thing or two about surviving the pitfalls of growing older in front of the world. From depleted storylines, to transitioning from sizzling screen diva to a mature grandmother, Changing Shoes shows that even TV grandmothers can have style and flair. Drawing from the lessons she has learned in her own life, Tina candidly shares her endearing, sensitive and often funny story of crossing into her next phase of her life. And, in doing so, she offers important tips on how to embrace womanhood with ease.
Click here to read the guide for Changing Shoes.

September's Registered Book Club Promotions

For September we have three very special opportunities for Registered Book Groups. Our featured titles this month are A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay, The Girls from Ames by Jeffrey Zaslow and Secrets of Harmony Grove by Mindy Starns Clark. Groups who have registered with us by Tuesday, September 21st have the chance to win author chats and/or free books. If your group is not registered, click here to register.

A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay --- Author Chat and Book Giveaway: Three groups will have the opportunity to chat with Tatiana de Rosnay and receive up to 10 copies of the book.

More about A Secret Kept:
It all began with a simple seaside vacation, a brother and sister recapturing their childhood. Antoine Rey thought he had the perfect surprise for his sister Mélanie’s birthday: a weekend by the sea at Noirmoutier Island, where the pair spent many happy childhood summers playing on the beach. It had been too long, Antoine thought, since they’d returned to the island --- over 30 years, since their mother died and the family holidays ceased. But the island’s haunting beauty triggers more than happy memories; it reminds Mélanie of something unexpected and deeply disturbing about their last island summer. When, on the drive home to Paris, she finally summons the courage to reveal what she knows to Antoine, her emotions overcome her and she loses control of the car.

The Girls from Ames by Jeffrey Zaslow --- Author Chat and Book Giveaway: One group will have the opportunity to chat with Jeffrey Zaslow and receive up to 15 signed copies of the book.

More about The Girls from Ames:
As children, they formed a special bond, growing up in the small town of Ames, Iowa. As young women, they moved to eight different states, yet they managed to maintain an extraordinary friendship that would carry them through college and careers, marriage and motherhood, dating and divorce, the death of a child, and the mysterious death of the 11th member of their group. Capturing their remarkable story, The Girls from Ames is a testament to the enduring, deep bonds of women as they experience life's challenges, and the power of friendship to overcome even the most daunting odds.

Secrets of Harmony Grove by Mindy Starns Clark --- Book Giveaway: Fifteen groups will have the opportunity to receive up to 10 copies of the book.

More about Secrets of Harmony Grove:
When New York marketing executive Samantha Collins finds herself unemployed, she moves out of her pricey Manhattan apartment to sleepy Harmony Grove, Pennsylvania. She plans on running the bed-and-breakfast she had bought as an investment in Lancaster County. However, when the manager she lets go is later found murdered on the property, Samantha’s troubles take a serious turn. A handsome local wishes to befriend her, but can she trust him? And when her ex-boyfriend shows up, wanting to reconcile, can she cope with him in the middle of this crisis? Samantha must learn to depend on the Savior she has recently taken into her heart. And she’ll need all the help she can get, because the secrets she uncovers in Harmony Grove threaten her livelihood, her safety, and ultimately her life.


Click here to register your group. Bets On: HEALER by Carol Cassella

Healer by Carol Cassella (September 7th): Carol Cassella, author of the brilliant debut novel Oxygen, returns with Healer. Those who already have fallen in love with her work will appreciate this stellar sophomore effort, while those who have not yet discovered her will want to pick up this one. Cassella, who is an anesthesiologist living in the Seattle area, again sets her book in Washington and takes readers inside the medical profession. This time she plunges us into the world of new drug testing --- and what a fascinating world that is with huge stakes on all sides.

Claire Boehning has “the perfect life” as her days are consumed with finding the right things for the house, shepherding her daughter Jory from event to event, and showing up at a whirl of social events to support her husband Addison’s biotech career. But when testing for a promising cancer drug falls apart, which her husband backed with all their capital, Claire’s world is abruptly changed.

The family is uprooted from their comfortable digs into the fixer-upper second home that they bought, where they will live as Addison tries to gather funding to start again. They face an economic downturn that shatters their world and pushes their familiar bonds to the breaking point. Claire, who never completed the board certification for her medical training, now finds herself working in a clinic that is short on dollars and long on lines of migrant worker patients. Jory is far from her friends and is acting out to show her displeasure with their new circumstances. And Addison travels to try to regain his position and raise new funding, trying to appear successful while his world is crumbling around him.

Cassella portrays an honest look at marriage and family when all bets are off and the familiar tethers are not there for support. And she does it brilliantly. At the same time, she’s developed a beautifully crafted suspenseful story where she does not burden her prose with wearisome medical facts, but rather weaves them seamlessly into the story. Thus it’s a truly satisfying read on many levels.

-Click here to read a review of Healer.


Click here to see all the titles is betting you'll love.

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:

-Discussing FINNY by Justin Kramon
-Got Some Hidden Writing Talent in Your Book Club?
-International Literacy Day 2010
-Daphne Kalotay: RUSSIAN WINTER
-Classics on Audio - That's one way to do it!
-Would You Read a Political Memoir for Book Club?
-Syrie James: DRACULA, MY LOVE
-Highlights of a Bookseller's Summer


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. Also, receive updates by email here.

Click here to read the Blog.

New Guides Now Available

The Age of the Unthinkable: Why New World Disorder Constantly Surprises Us and What We Can Do About It by Joshua Cooper Ramo: Joshua Cooper Ramo investigates the recent global crises, including the economic fallout, mortgage crises and fluctuating energy prices.
by Teri Woods: Two friends plan the perfect score to topple a local gangster, only to have their scheme interrupted by someone even more sinister.
America’s Prophet: How the Story of Moses Shaped America by Bruce Feiler: Bestselling author and religious historian Bruce Feiler examines the biblical character of Moses and his impact and influence on American culture.
Amigoland by Oscar Casares: Two brothers in a sleepy Mexico border town wonder about the possibilities just “over the fence” in America in this topical debut.
April & Oliver by Tess Callahan: This sexy and often heartbreaking debut novel tells the story of April and Oliver, two childhood friends whose lives collide with the death of April's younger brother.
Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson: Popular Southern author Joshilyn Jackson tells the story of one woman's struggle to evade certain death at the hands of her abusive husband.
Bending Toward the Sun: A Mother and Daughter Memoir by Leslie Gilbert-Lurie: A miraculous lesson in courage and recovery, Bending Toward the Sun tells the story of a unique family bond forged in the wake of brutal terror.
Captured by Desire by Kira Morgan: In 16th-century Scotland, the foster daughter of the Queen's jeweler searches for her biological father and her noble lineage, in this debut medieval romance.
The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand: Prominent power couples on Nantucket are rocked not just by the death of one of their own, but the secrets that trickle forth in the tragedy’s wake.
Changing Shoes: Getting Older --- NOT OLD--- with Style, Humor, and Grace by Tina Sloan: The “Guiding Light” star shares personal stories about her evolution from screen diva to grandmother on national television, and how she confronted these life phases.
Cheerful Money: Me, My Family, and the Last Days of Wasp Splendor by Tad Friend: A New Yorker writer's loving account of the decline and fall of America's Wasp world --- starting with his own Edith Wharton-esque family.
Cold: Adventures in the World’s Frozen Places by Bill Streever: A first-rate journalistic account about being cold, from the Ice Ages to molecular science.

The Financial Lives of Poets by Jess Walter: A financial journalist reaches a personal crossroads after his start-up business crashes and his home life unravels.
Follow Me by Joanna Scott: An epic and unforgettable novel about a young woman's search for herself in America, retracing a similar trip her deceased grandmother logged.
The Four Fingers of Death by Rick Moody: Rick Moody's masterful novel vividly imagines a lowdown, darkly comic future, as inspired by a drive-in movie classic.
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen: The bestselling National Book Award winner returns with a biting portrait of an American family in today’s society.
Her Daughter’s Dream by Francine Rivers: The sequel to Francine Rivers’s bestseller Her Mother’s Hope follows generations of mothers and daughters across the changing social landscape of America during the 20th century.
Hummingbirds by Joshua Gaylord: A fictional private school becomes a den of cliques where the lines between teacher, student, morality and corruption become blurred.
If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home Now by Claire LaZebnik: From the well-loved author of The Smart One and the Pretty One comes a new novel about a young single mother trying to move out of her family's shadow.
The Imposter’s Daughter: A True Memoir by Laurie Sandell: Magazine writer Laurie Sandell offers her memoir about her con-man father in graphic novel format.
Just Food: Where Locavores Get It Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly by James E. McWilliams: A provocative book that explodes the myths of the locavore movement and charts a path to truly planet-friendly eating.
The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks: The beloved bestselling author offers another love story about a Manhattan teen who falls for a boy in a South Carolina beach town.
The Life You’ve Imagined by Kristina Riggle: Four women reconsider life, love, family, friendship and happiness as they settle into middle age.
Like Dandelion Dust by Karen Kingsbury: Jack and Molly Campbell are leading a peaceful life raising their toddler son, until Jack’s estranged father is released from prison.
The Messenger of Athens
by Anne Zouroudi: A sparkling crime series set in modern Greece: love, lies, tragedy --- and a stranger with the key to every secret.
The Miracle of Mercy Land by River Jordan: A newspaper reporter comes into possession of a mysterious book with secrets that will make for the biggest story she will ever print.
More Church Folk by Michele Andrea Bowen: Bestselling author Michele Andrea Bowen brings readers the much anticipated sequel to her novel Church Folk.
Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English by Natasha Solomons: In her tender, sweetly comic debut, Natasha Solomons tells the captivating love story of a couple making a new life --- and their wildest dreams come true.
Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man: A Memoir by Bill Clegg: A successful literary agent recounts his struggles with substance abuse, recovery, and how he conquered his demons.
The Queen’s Captive by Barbara Kyle: Following the Wyatt Rebellion, Queen Mary orders that all insurgents be imprisoned and executed, including her own sister, Princess Elizabeth.
Ravens by George Dawes Green: At once frightening, comic and suspenseful, Ravens is a wholly original and utterly compelling novel from one of our most talented writers.
Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay: A novel of lush, rich historical detail about a Russian ballerina who remembers her decision to defect and the new life she discovered in America.
A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay: From the bestselling author of Sarah’s Key comes a family mystery about a car crash and a long-buried secret.
Secrets of Harmony Grove by Mindy Starns Clark: The proprietor of a bed and breakfast in Amish country comes under investigation by the FBI after a string of bizarre occurrences seemingly unrelated to her.
The Secrets of Newberry by Victor McGlothin: Will the bonds of family keep strong when murder, deception and lies threaten to tear them apart? Two men find out in this intriguing saga set in 1950s Louisiana.
Sisters, Strangers, and Starting Over: A Quinceañera Club Novel by Belinda Acosta: While planning a Quinceañera for her estranged niece, Beatriz learns about life and motherhood in this heartfelt second installment of the Quinceañera Club series
Solomon’s Oak by Jo-Ann Mapson: A young widow, rebellious orphan and injured police officer find common ground at a little wedding chapel beneath one of California’s legendary oak trees.
Sweet Misfortune by Kevin Alan Milne: Up-and-coming author Kevin Alan Milne's most touching novel to date, about a woman whose cynical fortune cookies take on a personal twist.
The Tenth Parallel: Dispatches from the Fault Line Between Christianity and Islam by Eliza Griswold: Award-winning journalist Eliza Griswold spent seven years traveling along the 10th Parallel, the geographic location home to millions of Muslims and Christians.
Vanishing and Other Stories by Deborah Willis: A collection of short stories exploring relationships between parents and children, siblings, lovers and addicts.
The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean by Susan Casey: The O magazine editor-in-chief travels the world, following surfing thrill seekers who are constantly looking for the biggest wave.
The Widower’s Tale by Julia Glass: The award-winning novelist creates a realistic, relatable cast of characters fronted by a curmudgeonly widower who has a gift for mischief and meddling.
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel: This Man Booker Prize winner from 2009, which recreates the world of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn and Oliver Cromwell’s ascension to power, is now in paperback.

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

Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem: The acclaimed author returns with this gorgeous, searing portrayal of Manhattanites wrapped in their own delusions, desires and lies.
A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore: A college student from a rural town gets her real education while nannying for affluent family.
Windfall by Penny Vincenzi: A housewife inherits a large sum and begins indulging her every fantasy, only to learn that more money means more problems.

The following new guide is now available for Christian book groups:

Chasing Lilacs by Carla Stewart: Debut author Carla Stewart stirs heartstrings in this powerful novel about a girl searching for the truth about her mother's love.


This Month's Poll
Has your book club ever read and discussed a Young Adult novel?


Yes, and we enjoyed it very much.
Yes, but it was not one of our better discussions.
No, but this is a good idea.
No, our group would not enjoy this.
I’m not sure if this would work with our group.
I’m not in a book club.


Click here to answer the poll.


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Happy reading. We'll see you next month.

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Carol Fitzgerald ([email protected])

The Book Report Network
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