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March 2012

ReadingGroupGuides.com Newsletter March 2012

Quick Links to Features on ReadingGroupGuides.com
 
Migrating My Reading Location

Spring is on its way, which means just around the corner I will move my weekend reading spot from the couch in the family room to the hammock on the patio and then later as we move into summer to a lounge chair poolside. This comes just as I have finally mastered how to make a fire in the fireplace where the snap of burning wood is background noise as I read. I guess it's my version of "white noise."

We have lived in our house for more than 22 years, and during that time, my firelighting skills have been hit or miss. I blame the wood. On a typical day, my husband, the former Boy Scout and engineer, will come in and evaluate my technique, and immediately logs will be rearranged. Yesterday, just as the temperatures outside were climbing towards 60, I had a roaring fire going, which passed muster. I still think it’s about the wood. By the way, one of my favorite things is tossing copper-infused flakes into the flames to turn them colors. I have these treated pinecones that I stockpiled years ago, and when the flames are hot, they work beautifully.

All this to say that no matter what the season, there is always READING on the agenda. If I do not read at least one, and usually two, books a weekend, I feel like I am slacking. Mostly I am reading ahead trying to find treasures to share here and on our other websites, thus the stacks that surround me begging a look can be rather daunting at times. I pile, sort and re-sort --- and then read.

Since it’s all about getting books onto your radar, I am really happy to share that this month, we’re featuring contests for three books, all of which will be great for discussion.

The first is The Starboard Sea by Amber Dermont, which I recently selected as a Bookreporter.com Bets On selection; you can read more about that here. It’s the story of a young boy in boarding school navigating the tricky waters of his senior year at an elite prep school, where he is haunted by the suicide of a friend. It nails the trials and growing pains of being an adolescent, and while it is set in 1987, as you read it you quickly will realize that the story could just as easily take place today. Twenty (20) readers will have the opportunity to each win a copy of the advance reader’s edition for their group (these often become collectors' items; I still have MANY of these on my shelves). Enter to win here by Thursday, April 5th at noon ET. By the way, a guide for this book will be posted later today or tomorrow.

We are also celebrating the release of Return to Grace: A Home Valley Amish Novel by Karen Harper --- in which a young woman returns to her Amish town on a whim, and while there is drawn back into the world she was trying to leave behind --- with a special contest. Amish titles are hot hot hot with readers. It seems people cannot get enough of them! Three (3) groups of 12 readers will have the opportunity to each win the book for their group. To take part in this contest, enter by Thursday, April 5th at noon ET.

For our third contest, we are giving away Midnight in Peking by Paul French, which will be in stores on April 24th --- the true story of the investigation of the murder of a young Englishwoman in Peking in 1937. I started reading this over the weekend and got completely caught up in it. For those who like nonfiction like The Devil in the White City, where the story flows so well that it reads like fiction, this is the kind of book for you. I know little about the background of what was going on in Peking during this time period, thus I feel like I will be exploring that as well as the storyline unfolds. Twenty-five (25) readers will have the opportunity to each win a copy. Enter by Thursday, April 5th at noon ET.

For March, we also have a very special opportunity for our Registered Book Groups. One group will receive 12 copies of Until the Next Time by Kevin Fox, while 50 additional readers each will be awarded a copy of the book. Groups that have registered with us by Tuesday, March 20th will have the chance to win. If your group is not registered with ReadingGroupGuides.com, click here to register. Until the Next Time is a debut novel. In it, Sean Corrigan receives a journal on his 21st birthday, which was left to him by his father’s brother, Michael --- a man he had not known existed. The journal, kept after his uncle fled from New York City to Ireland to escape prosecution for a murder he did not commit, draws Sean into a hunt for the truth about Michael’s fate. It is cloaked in mystery and suspense, and takes readers inside the rich heritage of Irish history and faith. It looks at time and memory and the way ancient myths affect everything --- from what we believe to whom we love.

In this month’s poll, we want to know more about your reading group. Besides discussion questions, what else do you use to enhance your book group discussion?

We have five new blog posts for you this month:

Nicole Baart, author of Far From Here, which was a Registered Book Group Contest book last month, weighs in on Truth and Lies.

Lisa Lutz, author of the Spellman series, has a funny piece about her own experience with book clubs, or lack thereof.

Pamela Redmond, author of The Possibility of You, talks a little about her own family history --- the inspiration for the book.

Richard Mason shares why he wrote History of a Pleasure Seeker.

Leila Cobo, author of The Second Time We Met, shares some of her own family history.

By the way, speaking of how book groups work, this month our Book Group Spotlight feature looks at "The In BeT(w)een Book Club," a group of teens and preteens that meets every month at the Escondido Public Library in San Diego County, California. In the interview, Joanna Axelrod, the librarian and group facilitator, gives some of her insight into young adult literature and shares her routines and methods for running the book group. I had the pleasure of meeting Joanna when I was in Dallas in January. We got to talking, and I was so impressed with her work with teens that I asked Dana in our office to interview her. I love hearing how younger readers respond to books.

Also, this month I am VERY pleased to share that we recently added a new website to TheBookReportNetwork.com --- 20SomethingReads.com.

The site is created for readers in their twenties, which we define as “A decade. A state of mind. An age. A lifestyle. A time for self-discovery. A new perspective. An attitude. A philosophy. Independence. Freedom. A time to re-discover reading for pleasure - and FINALLY read what you want.”

After years of assigned reading, your twenties are time to do just that. For the record, twentysomething to me is a state of mind as well (after all, I maintain I am still 27)! So what’s on the site? Here are just some of the features; the Curated Bookshelves especially are features you will enjoy as well (and for humor, our bookshelves in the office are this same birch-colored wood; not sure the designer had that in mind as she created them).

Curated Bookshelf Collections --- 20 themed titles perfect for twentysomethings. Now Live: Great International Mysteries, Spring Break Suggested Titles, Cookbooks to Get You Started, and Book Club Suggestions. Themed bookshelves will be part of each update.

Contests: Right now a chance to win all the Spring Break Bookshelf titles in a contest valued at more than $450, and a Hunger Games Contest with movie tie-in titles from The Hunger Games, including a collector’s edition, The Official Illustrated Movie Companion, The Tributes Guide, and The Hunger Games movie tie-in edition.

20 Days of The Hunger Games --- In anticipation of the upcoming film release, we have a special blog series that started March 3rd, with 20 blogs to count down to until this highly anticipated movie’s release.

Booksellers and Librarian Picks --- Featuring reading recommendations for readers in their twenties, booksellers and librarians from around the country will be making suggestions as to what books to read.

Bookstore Tours --- This article series will highlight indie bookstores in the United States, from coast-to-coast, beginning with bookstores in New York City.

20 Over 30 --- Authors over the age of 30 will make reading recommendations, suggesting which book of theirs to start with, what book they would recommend to readers in their twenties, and what book they’re reading.

20 Questions: A Day in the Life of… --- This blog series will follow the writing --- and living --- habits of authors, as they answer a questionnaire about what it’s like to be them for a day.

Click here to check out 20SomethingReads.com. And may we please ask that you share this with your twentysomething friends and family…those chronologically --- or psychographically --- this age! We will have a newsletter there as well, and you can “like” us on Facebook!

This month’s newsletter contest book is The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker. If you are signed up to receive this newsletter, you are automatically entered to win a copy. The novel follows Julia Win, a young woman who puts her career and life on hold to travel to Burma in search of her missing father. I read it earlier this year and had the pleasure of meeting Jan-Philipp on two occasions. This book was a huge success in Germany and other countries around the world, but the author always had as a goal to be published in the United States. So happy for all of us that that dream came true.

And finally, we are readying plans to redesign ReadingGroupGuides.com and would love to know if there are features or other programming that you would like to see us add. Drop Maureen Linehan (Maureen@bookreporter.com) a note with your suggestions and ideas, and we will work to ensure that they are considered as we map out our plans for a re-launch sometime in late spring.

Here’s to a great month of book discussions and to each of you for finding your own special place to enjoy a book in March.

Carol Fitzgerald (Carol@bookreporter.com)


 

Special Contest: Win a Copy of THE STARBOARD SEA by Amber Dermont for Your Group

We are celebrating the release of The Starboard Sea by Amber Dermont --- in which a troubled young man navigates the murky waters of prep school, while dealing with the suicide of his best friend --- with a special contest. Twenty (20) readers will have the opportunity to each win an advance reading copy for their group. The deadline for entries is Thursday, April 5th at noon ET.

More about The Starboard Sea:
Jason Prosper grew up in the elite world of Manhattan penthouses, Maine summer estates, old-boy prep schools, and exclusive sailing clubs. A smart, athletic teenager, Jason maintains a healthy, humorous disdain for the trappings of affluence, preferring to spend afternoons sailing with Cal, his best friend and boarding-school roommate. When Cal commits suicide during their junior year at Kensington Prep, Jason is devastated by the loss and transfers to Bellingham Academy. There, he meets Aidan, a fellow student with her own troubled past. They embark on a tender, awkward, deeply emotional relationship.

When a major hurricane hits the New England coast, the destruction it causes brings with it another upheaval in Jason’s life, forcing him to make sense of a terrible secret that has been buried by the boys he considers his friends.

- Click here for the reading group guide.

 

Click here to read all the contest details.

 
Special Contest: Win Copies of RETURN TO GRACE by Karen Harper for Your Group
We are celebrating the release of Return to Grace: A Home Valley Amish Novel by Karen Harper --- in which a young woman returns to her Amish town on a whim, and while there is drawn back into the world she was trying to leave behind --- with a special contest. Three (3) groups of 12 readers will have the opportunity to each win the book for their group. The deadline for entries is Thursday, April 5th at noon ET.

More about Return to Grace:
Hannah Esh fled the Home Valley Amish community with a broken heart, throwing herself into her worldly dreams of a singing career instead. But as much as she tries to run from her past, something keeps pulling her back. On a whim, she brings four worldly friends to the Amish graveyard near her family’s home for a midnight party on Halloween. But when shots are fired and one of her friends is killed, Hannah is pulled back into the world of her past.

- Click here for the reading group guide.

 
Click here to read all the contest details.

 
Special Contest: Win a Copy of MIDNIGHT IN PEKING by Paul French for Your Group
We are celebrating the release of Midnight in Peking by Paul French --- the true story of the murder of a young Englishwoman in Peking in 1937 --- with a special contest. Twenty-five (25) readers will have the opportunity to each win a copy of the book, which will be on sale April 24th, for their group. The deadline for entries is Thursday, April 5th at noon ET.

More about Midnight in Peking:
Peking in 1937 is a heady mix of privilege and scandal, opulence and opium dens, rumors and superstition. The Japanese are encircling the city, and the discovery of Pamela Werner's body sends a shiver through already nervous Peking. Is it the work of a madman? One of the ruthless Japanese soldiers now surrounding the city? Or perhaps the dreaded fox spirits? With the suspect list growing and clues sparse, two detectives --- one British and one Chinese --- race against the clock to solve the crime before the Japanese invade and Peking as they know it is gone forever. Can they find the killer in time, before the Japanese invade?

- Click here for the reading group guide.

 
Click here to read all the contest details.

 
THE ART OF HEARING HEARTBEATS by Jan-Philipp Sendker

When Julia Win’s father disappears one morning without a trace, on the day after her graduation from law school, her family is left unsettled and confused. It’s not until a few years later that her mother finds a piece of the puzzle --- an unmailed love letter to a Burmese woman named Mi Mi. Intent on solving the mystery and coming to terms with her father’s past, Julia puts her career and her life on hold to travel to the village where Mi Mi once lived.
 

Click here for the reading group guide.

 
THE HARE WITH AMBER EYES: A Hidden Inheritance, by Edmund de Waal
Edmund de Waal is a world-famous ceramicist. Having spent 30 years making beautiful pots --- which are then sold, collected and handed on --- he has a particular sense of the secret lives of objects. When he inherited a collection of 264 tiny Japanese wood and ivory carvings, called netsuke, he wanted to know who had touched and held them, and how the collection had managed to survive. And so begins this extraordinarily moving memoir and detective story as de Waal discovers both the story of the netsuke and of his family, the Ephrussis, over five generations.
Click here for the reading group guide.

 
THE SLEEPY HOLLOW FAMILY ALMANAC by Kris D'Agostino

In the spirit of Nick Hornby and Tom Perrotta comes a smart, funny debut from novelist Kris D’Agostino about a disillusioned young man whose fledgling leap from post-adolescence to adulthood lands him back in an already overburdened family nest. In The Sleepy Hollow Family Almanac, D’Agostino introduces his readers to Calvin, a 24-year-old film school dropout living at home again and working at a preschool for autistic kids.

Click here for the reading group guide.

 
WHAT YOU SEE IN THE DARK by Manuel Muñoz
Desire turns deadly in the small, dusty town of Bakersfield, CA circa 1959, with the arrival of a legendary director scouting locations for a film about madness and murder at a roadside motel. Though the story unfolds in much the same way that Hitchcock made Psycho --- frame by frame, in camera pans, zooms, and close-ups --- What You See in the Dark takes readers into places no cameras can ever go, venturing into characters’ petty jealousies, private thoughts and unrealized dreams.
 
Click here for the reading group guide.

 
RESTORATION by Olaf Olafsson

Having grown up in an exclusive circle of wealthy British ex-pats in Florence in the 1920s, Alice Orsini shocks everyone when she marries the son of a minor Italian landowner and begins restoring San Martino, a crumbling villa in Tuscany, to its former glory. But after years of hard work --- filling the acres with orchards, livestock and farmhands --- Alice’s growing restlessness pulls her into the heady social swirl of wartime Rome and a reckless affair that will have devastating consequences.

 

Click here for the reading group guide.

 
March's Registered Book Group Contest

For March, we have a very special opportunity for Registered Book Groups. One group will receive 12 copies of Until the Next Time by Kevin Fox, while 50 readers each will be awarded a copy of the book. Groups that have registered with us by Tuesday, March 20th will have the chance to win. If your group is not registered with ReadingGroupGuides.com, click here to register.

Until the Next Time by Kevin Fox --- Book Giveaway: One group will receive 12 copies of Until the Next Time, while 50 readers each will be awarded a copy of the book.

More about Until the Next Time:
For Sean Corrigan, the past is simply what happened yesterday. Until his 21st birthday, when he’s given a journal left to him by his father’s brother Michael --- a man he had not known existed. The journal, kept after his uncle fled from New York City to Ireland to escape prosecution for a murder he did not commit, draws Sean into a hunt for the truth about Michael’s fate.


Sean also leaves New York for Ireland, where he is caught up in the lives of people who not only know all about Michael Corrigan but have a score to settle. As his connection to his uncle grows stronger, he realizes that within the tattered journal lies the story of his own life --- his past as well as his future --- and the key to finding the one woman he is fated to love forever.

Until the Next Time is cloaked in mystery and suspense and takes readers inside the rich heritage of Irish history and faith. It is a remarkable debut novel about time and memory and the way ancient myths affect everything --- from what we believe to whom we love.
 

Click here to register your group.

 
ReadingGroupGuides.com’s Book Group Spotlight Feature: The In BeT(w)een Book Club

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.

This month’s Book Group Spotlight interview is with Joanna Axelrod, a librarian at the Escondido Public Library in San Diego County, California. She hosts “The In BeT(w)een Book Club,” a teen/preteen book club at her library that meets monthly. In this interview, she shares how the group works, what inspired her to start it, and some of the routines and activities she incorporates into each meeting.

- Click here to read previous Book Group Spotlight interviews.

 

Click here to read our latest Book Group Spotlight interview.

 
20SomethingReads.com is Live!
Our newest site in The Book Report Network is now up and running! 20SomethingReads.com is created for readers in their twenties, which we define as “A decade. A state of mind. An age. A lifestyle. A time for self-discovery. A new perspective. An attitude. A philosophy. Independence. Freedom. A time to re-discover reading for pleasure - and FINALLY read what you want.”

20SomethingReads.com will be where readers, writers, booksellers, librarians and twentysomething bibliophiles share the books they're reading and the books they suggest you read as well. Before you come into your twenties, most reading was by assignment for school with short stints for reading for pleasure. Thus this is a time to broaden reading horizons and discover and explore books in a whole new way. (By the way, we see twentysomething as a state of mind; you don't have to be in your twenties to visit this site!)

 
Click here to visit 20SomethingReads.com.

 
Bookreporter.com’s Spring Preview Contests and Feature

Spring is in the air! We’ve already caught the fever --- and so have the publishers! Here are some picks that we know people will be talking about over the next few months. We will be hosting a number of 24-hour contests for these titles on select days through the end of March. You will need to check the site to see the featured book and enter to win. We also will be sending a special newsletter to announce each title, which you can sign up for here.

This week’s contests are for Three A.M. by Steven John (March 12th), A Dog’s Journey: Another Novel for Humans by W. Bruce Cameron (March 13th) and Attachments by Rainbow Rowell (March 14th).

This year's featured titles are:

- Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
- Dark Magic by James Swain
- A Dog's Journey: Another Novel for Humans by W. Bruce Cameron
- Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal
- Island Apart by Steven Raichlen
- Last Call for the Living by Peter Farris
- Living Proof by Kira Peikoff
- The Singles by Meredith Goldstein
- Three A.M. by Steven John
- True Sisters by Sandra Dallas
- Wide Open by Deborah Coates

 

Click here to see Bookreporter.com's Spring Preview feature and sign up for the special newsletter.

 
New Guides Now Available

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker: This beloved and bestselling German novel, now available in English, is a poignant and inspirational love story set against the beautiful background of 1950s Burma.
Being Lara by Lola Jaye: This poignant and provocative story of adoption, self-discovery and the meaning of family is an unforgettable tale of three women --- British mother, Nigerian birth mother, and 30-year-old daughter --- the choices they made, and the fragile bond they try to create across time and continents.
The Hare With Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance by Edmund de Waal: Edmund de Waal’s beautifully written journey of discovery, which is also a secret history of touch, is as startlingly original and haunting as the netsuke themselves.
How to Eat a Cupcake by Meg Donohue: After not speaking for years, two childhood friends, Annie and Julia, reconnect as adults and decide to open a cupcakery. To succeed, however, they must overcome old betrayals, first loves, and a dangerous threat that could destroy everything they’ve worked so hard to accomplish.
Losing Clementine by Ashley Ream: A wonderfully entertaining and poignant novel, Losing Clementine is an addictive tale, by turns hilarious and tragic, involving a renowned artist’s impending suicide. Ashley Ream takes a usually macabre subject and makes it accessible, relatable and funny.
Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China by Paul French: Historian and China expert Paul French at last uncovers the truth behind the notorious murder of a young Englishwoman, and offers a rare glimpse of the last days of colonial Peking.
Restoration by Olaf Olafsson: Olaf Olafsson has created a novel that grapples with the moral abyss of war while rendering the psychological portraits of those living through it with masterful strokes.
Return to Grace: A Home Valley Amish Novel by Karen Harper: A young woman returns to her Amish town on a whim, and while there is drawn back into the world she was trying to leave behind.
The Sleepy Hollow Family Almanac
by Kris D'Agostino: In the spirit of Nick Hornby and Tom Perrotta comes a smart, funny debut from novelist Kris D’Agostino about a disillusioned young man whose fledgling leap from post-adolescence to adulthood lands him back in an already overburdened family nest.
The Starboard Sea
by Amber Dermont: A troubled young man navigates the murky waters of prep school, while dealing with the suicide of his best friend.
This Burns My Heart
by Samuel Park: Set in South Korea during the 1960s, This Burns My Heart centers on Soo-Ja, an ambitious young woman who finds herself trapped in an unhappy, controlling marriage.
Until the Next Time
by Kevin Fox: This sweeping debut novel leads a young man on a perilous search for a lost love and the mystery of his uncle’s murder in Ireland.
Wagon Trail to Nowhere
by Laurel Means: Sarah Pearl Lundgren, her father presumed dead, is forced by strangers to set out on a dangerous wagon trail journey toward an unknown destination.
What You See in the Dark
by Manuel Muñoz: Set in the 1950s, this debut novel juxtaposes a murder in the small town of Bakersfield, CA with the arrival of legendary director Alfred Hitchcock and actress Janet Leigh to film Psycho.
Whispers Through the House
by Laurel Means: A sequel to The Long Journey Home, this historical novel follows events eight years later, 1875, in the life of Agnes Morton’s sister, Lucette Dubois.

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

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon: A former reporter stumbles across the inspiring story of a woman business owner in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
by Stieg Larsson: The thrilling conclusion to Stieg Larsson’s international bestselling Millennium series finds Lisbeth Salander clinging to life as Mikael Blomqvist tries to exonerate her.
The Lantern
by Deborah Lawrenson: The Lantern is a modern gothic novel of love, secrets and murder --- set against the lush backdrop of Provence.
The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim
by Jonathan Coe: The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim is a gently comic and rollickingly entertaining novel about the paradoxical difficulties of making genuine attachments in a world of advanced communications technology and rampant social networking.

The following new guides are now available for Christian book groups:

Love's Sacred Song by Mesu Andrews: Mesu Andrews expertly weaves the words of the Song of Solomon into this touching story of the power of love. Readers will be transported from the glowing fields of Shunem to the gleaming city of Jerusalem as they experience this rich and textured novel.
Sarai: Wives of the Patriarchs, Book 1
by Jill Eileen Smith: Combining in-depth research and vivid storytelling, Jill Eileen Smith brings to life the beautiful and inscrutable Sarai in this remarkable story of love, jealousy and undaunted faith.


 

This Month’s Poll and Newsletter Contest Book

Poll:

Besides discussion questions, which of the following material do you look at to enhance your book group discussion? (Please check as many as apply.)

Author bio
Author interview
Author website
Author video
Other videos that talk about background on the book
Audio interviews
Research about the topic mentioned in the book
Blurbs from other authors
The author’s Facebook page
The author’s Twitter feed
What readers are saying on other social networking sites
Other (Please specify.)
We are content just reading the book.
I am not sure.
I am not in a book group.

- Click here to answer our poll.


Newsletter Contest Book:

Win copies of The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker for your group!

To be a group to win 20 free copies of this book, all you have to do is sign up for the ReadingGroupGuides.com newsletter by April 1st. If you are receiving this newsletter in your mailbox, you already are signed up!

More about The Art of Hearing Heartbeats:
When Julia Win’s father disappears one morning without a trace, on the day after her graduation from law school, her family is left unsettled and confused. It’s not until a few years later that her mother finds a piece of the puzzle --- an unmailed love letter to a Burmese woman named Mi Mi.

Intent on solving the mystery and coming to terms with her father’s past, Julia puts her career and her life on hold to travel to the village where Mi Mi once lived. Her journey takes her to the small mountain village of Kalaw, where she is approached by a man who claims to know her father, and who seems to have an uncanny knowledge of Julia herself. Intrigued, she returns to meet him every afternoon and listen to his incredible tales of her father’s youth --- of his childhood blindness, his education at a monastery, and, most of all, about his passionate relationship with a local girl.

At first Julia is unwilling to believe that the romantic boy in this poignant story has anything to do with her reticent father, but soon she can no longer withstand the almost mystical invoking of mysterious past events, entwined as they are with the influence of the stars and with a love larger than life.

- 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 TheBookReportNetwork.com:


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

Carol Fitzgerald (Carol@bookreporter.com)

The Book Report Network
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New York, New York 10107