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September 2011 Newsletter September 2011

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September Means...Back to Book Group Discussions
We know that some groups suspend meetings for the summer and that others have meetings that are more sparsely attended as members are off on vacation, thus September takes on a “back to the books” kind of feeling for book groups.

While around the country the earthquake, hurricanes, flooding and fires of August and last week have had things spinning a tad more crazy than usual, it’s nice to know that book reading can be done no matter what the weather. And with eReaders --- so long as they are fully charged ---- reading can even happen without lights! I found that I was able to read via my iPad when we lost electricity for six days thanks to Hurricane Irene. It was nice to have a great book to escape to when the darkness was enveloping me.

We headed for the Outer Banks for our vacation the week before Labor Day right after the “all-clear” signal was given to get back onto the island. As my husband drove to North Carolina at 2:30 AM, I was able to read as he drove again by using my iPad (once I turned down the backlight that was looking like a beacon in the passenger seat! While I did not get as much reading done as I would have liked this abbreviated trip, I have a report on what I read here on the Blog, which includes at least one book I KNOW book clubs are going to enjoy when it comes out in November! Curious as to what I am talking about? Then click here.

On our way out of town on the Outer Banks last week, we stopped by Duck’s Cottage for coffee, hot chocolate and a copy of One Day (order from IndieBound or Amazon). (While the movie did not get raves, the book had piqued my interest.) Jamie Layton, one of the managers, has become a friend and has blogged for us here on occasion, and I always enjoy hearing what the book clubs that she moderates are reading. I also wanted to support the store, which had lost a ton of business due to the storm. Jamie had posted signs like the one you see above that talk about what a storm like Irene means to a small business. Their message was so poignant, I wanted to share it with you.

Since we last chatted,, the flagship site in --- which is a part of --- celebrated its 15th anniversary. Hard to believe how much time has flown by since we first started! If you have not had a chance to check out the newly redesigned website, you may want to do so now. It’s the start of a complete makeover for all of our websites. And no fear, there’s a plan for to get the same treatment in early 2012! Also, for some humor about the past 15 years, you may want to read this blog that my 21-year-old son Gregory wrote to commemorate the occasion.

As we head “back to the books” this month, we have a very special opportunity for our registered readers. Three groups can win a chance to chat with international bestselling author Tatiana de Rosnay and receive copies of her book A Secret Kept, which is now in paperback. Of course, Tatiana is known for her bestseller Sarah’s Key, voted by our readers as one of the Top 10 Discussion Books of the past 10 years. A Secret Kept begins with a peaceful family retreat until a devastating secret leads to a terrible car crash. Make sure your group is registered here by Tuesday, September 20th to be entered to win!

By the way, I went to see the movie adaptation of Sarah’s Key right before I left for vacation. Very well done! It seems to just be in limited release, so be sure to look for it on DVD if you cannot see it in your local theater. I saw it with my friend Beverley, and we both commented that we were glad we had read the book first. While the movie tracks the book, you will get more out of the movie after reading the book!

We’re also sharing our New in Paperback feature from this month. Since we’re all resuming our routines after a fun summer, we thought it would be a good idea to let you know of some new paperbacks hitting shelves this month. Most notably for book groups is Jonathan Franzen’s bestseller Freedom. Check out the full week-by-week list here.

Over on, I’ve added to my Bets On collection with Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. It takes place in New York City in 1938, towards the end of the Jazz Age, and is about a young woman whose smarts, wits and charm help her climb the social and professional ladders. It has a great sense of time and place that really brings the city and culture to life. Fans of The Great Gatsby and Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife from earlier this year will appreciate this one. Read more of my thoughts about it here. And it would be a terrific book club selection.

This month's Book Group Spotlight interview is with Tammy Calhoun, a member of the Fabulous Ladies and Books reading group in Cincinnati, Ohio. FLAB, as they affectionately call themselves (which is quite amusing), is comprised of 10 neighbors who have been meeting to discuss books since 2002. Tammy shares how her group works and offers tips on how to make book group fun! Our “What to Read to Next? Suggest a Book for This Group” feature is also back, where you can make recommendations to groups and submit yourself to get some reader-approved selections.

I am sorry to share some very sad news. At the end of August, I learned of the death of Barbara Drummond Mead, who was the co-owner of Reading Group Choices. Our mutual involvement with book groups had us crossing paths many times throughout the years, and I always enjoyed the opportunity to connect with her and her husband Charlie. She was way way too young to have left us!

Here’s to a great month of reading…and some wonderful book group discussions!

Carol Fitzgerald ([email protected])

THE LEGACY by Katherine Webb
A fresh and exciting new voice in contemporary fiction, Katherine Webb debuts with a haunting novel about a secret family history. Already a sensation in the United Kingdom, Webb’s The Legacy is a treat for every fan of upmarket women’s fiction and literary suspense in the vein of bestselling authors Kate Morton, Sarah Waters and Diane Setterfield. Taut, affecting and surprising --- a story that ranges from present-day England back to the American West in the early 20th century --- The Legacy embroils two sisters in an investigation into the strange, never solved disappearance of their cousin, a dark mystery that opened deep family wounds that never healed.
Click here to read the guide for The Legacy.

YOU AGAINST ME by Jenny Downham
When Mikey's sister claims a boy assaulted her, his world begins to fall apart. When Ellie's brother is charged with the offense, her world begins to unravel. When Mikey and Ellie meet, two worlds collide. This is a brave and unflinching novel from the bestselling author of Before I Die. It's a book about loyalty and the choices that come with it. But above all, it's a book about love.
Click here to read the guide for You Against Me.

September's Registered Book Club Contest: A SECRET KEPT by Tatiana de Rosnay
For September we have a very special opportunity for Registered Book Groups. Our featured title this month is A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay. Groups who have registered with us by Tuesday, September 20th have the chance to win an author chat and 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 via phone or Skype and receive up to 10 copies of the book.

More about A Secret Kept:
This stunning novel from Tatiana de Rosnay, author of the acclaimed New York Times bestseller Sarah’s Key, plumbs the depths of complex family relationships and the power of a past secret to change everything in the present.

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.

Click here to register your group.'s Book Group Spotlight: Fabulous Ladies and Books

The Book Group Spotlight Feature is designed to share a selected book group with our readers. The spotlight may focus on a group's discussion of a book or on a group that we feel is particularly interesting.

Our latest Book Group Spotlight interview is with Tammy Calhoun, a member of the Fabulous Ladies and Books (FLAB) reading group in Cincinnati, Ohio. FLAB, as they affectionately call themselves, is comprised of 10 neighbors who have been meeting to discuss books since 2002. Here, Tammy shares how her group works and offers tips on how to make book group fun!

-Click here to read previous Book Group Spotlight interviews.


Click here to read our latest Book Group Spotlight interview.'s "What to Read Next? Suggest a Book for This Group"

Is your book group stuck in a rut? Or looking to stretch beyond its comfort zone? Maybe you’re just searching for that next great read?

We’re here to help! Our latest feature, What to Read Next? Suggest a Book for This Group, aims to help a group by taking suggestions from our thousands of book group members.

We’ll regularly feature groups, tell you something about them and share their previous six selections, and then ask you to leave a suggestion for them in our special form. We’re excited to see groups sharing picks back and forth, and hope this feature helps groups find a new favorite discussion title!

-Click here to see this month’s featured groups.
-Click here to see the suggestions for last month’s groups.
-Click here to see the suggestions for previously featured groups.
-Click here to submit your group for consideration.


Click here to see our "What to Read Next?" feature.

Hot Book Club Titles for Fall

Curious about what titles are going to be big book club news for fall 2011? Check out our special guide created from 10 publishers sharing titles they know book groups are going to love this fall. This list is in PDF form, perfect for printing and sharing with fellow readers as well as taking it to your local store or library.

Click here to see the big book club picks for fall.

September's New in Paperback Roundups on
September's New in Paperback roundups include the following highlights:

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen (Fiction)
Patty and Walter Berglund were the new pioneers of old St. Paul --- the gentrifiers, the hands-on parents, the avant-garde of the Whole Foods generation. But now, in the new millennium, the Berglunds have become a mystery.

Great House by Nicole Krauss (Fiction)
For 25 years, a reclusive American novelist has been writing at the desk she inherited from a young Chilean poet who disappeared at the hands of Pinochet’s secret police; one day a girl claiming to be the poet’s daughter arrives to take it away, sending the writer’s life reeling.

The Kingdom of Childhood by Rebecca Coleman (Fiction)
Teenage Zach Patterson, uprooted and struggling to reconcile his knowledge of his mother's extramarital affair, and Judy McFarland, a kindergarten teacher watching her family unravel before her eyes, are thrown together to organize a fundraiser for their failing private school. Bonded by loneliness, they begin an affair that at first thrills, then corrupts each of them.

-Find out what's New in Paperback for the weeks of September 5th, September 12th, September 19th and September 26th. Bets On: RULES OF CIVILITY by Amor Towles

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles (Historical Fiction)
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles is a smart escapist novel. It’s beautifully written, with great visual prose that will have you dropped right into 1938. It opens in a jazz bar on New Year’s Eve when Katey Kontent and her friend Eve meet Tinker Grey, a bon vivant banker. The book looks at what happens to these characters over the next year, as Katey drops into a world of wealth and status, including a job at Conde Nast (which the ex-magazine girl in me loved reading about). But what looks so rich and so shiny has an underside that is not what it seems. And Katey, who is quite plucky, navigates her way through this year becoming wiser and wiser.

If you enjoyed The Great Gatsby or The Paris Wife, Rules of Civility has that same kind of rich descriptive writing and “go-go” spirit that makes you feel like you are at the party. Heads up that there are LOTS of cocktails mentioned in the book, especially ones with gin in them. I am not much of a drinker, but found myself craving a gin and tonic as I read! This is the first book in a while that I can see myself wanting to re-read again at a later date. I enjoyed it that much.

-Click here to read more about the book.
-Click here to read an excerpt.


Click here to see all the books we're betting you'll love.

Celebrating 15 Years of!
The Book Report Network celebrated 15 years recently. And while I have a flood of memories that float through me when I think of this decade and a half, it’s hard for me to crystallize the excitement and joy that has come from building and running this company in a few paragraphs. Thus I asked Greg, my older son --- who was just six when we launched the first site and has been working with us part-time for a few years now --- to write a piece from his perspective instead. Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.

Click here to read Greg Fitzgerald's tribute to

Sign Up for's "On Sale This Week" Newsletter

While’s Coming Soon feature has been on the site for many years, we have received requests from readers asking for weekly email notifications when books are released. Now we’re happy to announce our latest project,’s “On Sale This Week” newsletter.

Inside this weekly newsletter you will get a listing of hardcover and paperback titles releasing that week and the next, along with a brief description. It's printer friendly for you to take right to the store or post on a bulletin board in your library or store.


Click here to subscribe to's "On Sale This Week" newsletter.

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:

-Patti Callahan Henry: COMING UP FOR AIR
-Emily Chenoweth: HELLO, GOODBYE

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 this link. Also, receive updates by email here. In addition, the blog is shared on the Facebook page.

Click here to read the Blog.

New Guides Now Available

Call Me Irresistible by Susan Elizabeth Phillips: Lucy Jorik is the daughter of a former president. Meg Koranda is the offspring of legends. One of them is about to marry Ted Beaudine, the favorite son of Wynette, Texas.
The Emperor of Lies by Steve Sem-Sandberg: A critically acclaimed breakout bestseller in Sweden, this haunting novel chronicles the tale of Rumkowski’s monarchical rule over a quarter-million Jews for four-and-a-half years.
Falling for Me: How I Hung Curtains, Learned to Cook, Traveled to Seville, and Fell in Love by Anna David: A career-minded mother of five embarks on a quest to find personal happiness, tackling ordinary household chores and international travel.
The First Love Cookie Club: Twilight, Texas, Book 3 by Lori Wilde: A successful children’s author returns to her small Texas hometown to find she can’t quite shake the memories of friendship and love that greet her there.
Irma Voth by Miriam Toews: That rare coming-of-age story able to blend the dark with the uplifting, Irma Voth follows a young Mennonite woman, vulnerable yet wise beyond her years, who carries a terrible family secret with her on a remarkable journey to survival and redemption.
The Legacy by Katherine Webb: Two sisters return to the English manor that dredges up many memories, including the unsolved mystery of their cousin’s disappearance years ago.
Little Black Dress by Susan McBride: Two sisters whose lives seemed forever intertwined are torn apart when a magical little black dress gives each one a glimpse of an unavoidable future.
Man in the Woods by Scott Spencer: A man, a woman, a child, and an unforgettable dog combine forces in this gripping and surprising psychological thriller, the most stunning novel yet from Scott Spencer --- named one of Publishers Weekly’s Top Ten Books of 2010.
Skippy Dies by Paul Murray: A heartfelt, hilarious portrait of the pain, joy and occasional beauty of adolescence.
That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back by Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum: In this rousing call for American renewal, Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum analyze the challenges of globalization, the revolution in information technology, the nation’s chronic deficits, and its pattern of energy consumption, and spell out what we need to do now to rediscover America.
Train Dreams: A Novella by Denis Johnson: Suffused with the history and landscapes of the American West, this new novella by the National Book Award-winning author of Tree of Smoke captures the disappearance of a distinctly American way of life.
You Against Me by Jenny Downham: This brave and unflinching novel from the bestselling author of Before I Die tackles loyalty and the choices that come with it.

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

By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham: Set in Manhattan’s contemporary art world, By Nightfall raises bold new questions about these dynamics, through the lens of a seemingly ideal marriage.
C by Tom McCarthy: A young man enlists in World War I only to be captured in Germany and later escaping to London where he accepts a secret mission to Egypt.
Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff: The Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer brings to life the most intriguing woman in the history of the world: Cleopatra, the last queen of Egypt.
Fall of Giants: Book One of the Century Trilogy by Ken Follett: The first novel in The Century Trilogy, it follows the fates of five interrelated families --- America, German, Russian, English, and Welsh --- as they move through the world-shaking dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for women’s suffrage.
The False Friend by Myla Goldberg: From the bestselling author of Bee Season comes an astonishingly complex psychological drama with a simple setup: two 11-year-old girls, best friends and fierce rivals, go into the woods with only one returning.
The Oracle of Stamboul by Michael David Lukas: The Oracle of Stamboul is a marvelously evocative, magical historical novel that will transport readers to another time and place --- romantic, exotic, yet remarkably similar to our own.
A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay: This stunning new novel from Tatiana de Rosnay, author of the acclaimed New York Times bestseller Sarah’s Key, plumbs the depths of complex family relationships and the power of a past secret to change everything in the present.
Snakewoman of Little Egypt by Robert Hellenga: A woman re-enters society after serving a jail sentence for shooting her abusive husband, a local pastor practicing snake handling religious services.

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

The Protector: Families of Honor, Book Two by Shelley Shepard Gray: A young Amish woman is forced to sell her family’s farm despite a burgeoning romance with its new owner.
The Survivor: Families of Honor, Book Three by Shelley Shepard Gray: After a long bout with cancer, an Amish woman begins developing romantic feelings for her best friend.


This Month's Poll
What day of the week does your group usually meet?

The day of the week that we meet varies
I am not in a book club.

Click here to answer our poll.

This Month's Newsletter Contest Book: LITTLE BLACK DRESS by Susan McBride
Win a copy of Little Black Dress by Susan McBride 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 October 1, 2011. If you are receiving this newsletter in your mailbox, you already are signed up!

More about Little Black Dress:
Antonia Ashton has worked hard to build a thriving career and a committed relationship, but she realizes her life has gone off track. Forced to return home to Blue Hills when her mother, Evie, suffers a massive stroke, Toni finds the old Victorian where she grew up as crammed full of secrets as it is with clutter. Now she must put her mother’s house in order --- and uncover long-buried truths about Evie and her aunt, Anna, who vanished 50 years earlier on the eve of her wedding. By shedding light on the past, Toni illuminates her own mistakes and learns the most unexpected things about love, magic, and a little black dress with the power to break hearts...and mend them.


Click here to read all the contest details.


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
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