Friday, July 10, 2009

July 2009

Special Feature and Contest

Win a Copy of IMPOSSIBLE by Nancy Werlin for Your Group --- And Send Us Your Thoughts!

This month we are running a special contest for Impossible by Nancy Werlin, a riveting novel that combines suspense, fantasy and romance for an intensely page-turning and masterfully original tale. We have 25 finished copies to give away to readers who would like to read the book and comment about it. Impossible will be available in stores on August 11th.

Once the prize copies have been shipped, we will contact our winners and ask them to respond with their thoughts about the book.

More about Impossible:
To break the curse that has plagued the women of her family for generations, Lucy Scarborough must complete the impossible tasks set forth in an old ballad. But can Lucy finish before the curse takes hold of her and she is lost forever?

Nancy Werlin's Impossible is a haunting, thrilling, romantic puzzle with unexpected twists and turns that make it a perfect book club pick.

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



New and Recommended Fiction


The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder
by Rebecca Wells


Known for her beloved Ya-Ya books (including Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood), Rebecca Wells has helped women name, claim and celebrate their shared sisterhood for over a decade.

A tale of family and friendship, tragedy and triumph, loss and love, Wells's new novel, The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder, features the warmth, humor, soul and wonder that have made Wells one of today's most cherished writers, and gives us an unforgettable new heroine to treasure.

Click Here for the reading group guide.

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The Best of Times
by Penny Vincenzi


On a Friday afternoon, on a motorway outside of London, a trailer truck suddenly and violently swerves across fives lanes of traffic --- careening cars into one another like dominoes and leaving a trail of chaos and confusion.

Within the space of a minute, a pileup has amassed, and, as the survivors await help, their stories unfold. In this masterfully crafted page-turner, plot-twist queen Penny Vincenzi vividly captures how the actions of one person can dramatically affect many in the blink of an eye.

Click Here for the reading group guide.


The Garden of Last Days
by Andre Dubus III

Now Available in Paperback:
What was America like in the moment before the world changed on 9/11?

Andre Dubus III, a master of gripping psychological realism (author of the bestselling House of Sand and Fog), captures a world on the brink of disaster through the story of several aching lives in south Florida. Jean, a widow, tends her lush, vibrant garden and babysits adorable, three-year-old Franny --- whose proud, ambitious mother, April, works in a strip club to save money to move on to better things. AJ, estranged from his wife and young son, is back living with his mother and looking for someone to blame. Lonnie, a dyslexic bouncer, awaits his chance to shine. And Bassam, a young foreigner with a violent mission, struggles against the yearnings of the flesh.

One warm September night, their lives will intersect.

Click Here for the reading group guide.

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Border Songs
by Jim Lynch

Border Songs is a riveting novel about a distinctive community straddling the largely invisible boundary between Washington state and British Columbia. Rich in characters contending with a swiftly changing world and their own elusive hopes and dreams, Jim Lynch as written "an antidote to the 21st century: a kind of metaphorical insistence on hope and simplicity and art in the face of a surrounding storm" (Kent Haruf).

Click Here for the reading group guide.

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Trouble
by Kate Christensen


Trouble is a vibrant story of female friendship and midlife sexual awakening from Kate Christensen, the acclaimed author of The Great Man, winner of the 2008 PEN/Faulkner Award. A tragicomedy of marriage and friendship, Trouble is a funny, piercing and moving examination of the battle between the need for connection and the quest for freedom that every modern woman must fight.

Click Here for the reading group guide.

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Pharmakon
by Dirk Wittenborn


Now Available in Paperback:
William Friedrich, an ambitious professor of psychology at Yale in 1952, has stumbled upon a drug that promises happiness --- and that can make him a famous man. When his experiment goes awry, and a research subject commits murder, the consequences will haunt him and his family forever.

Honest, insightful and ruefully funny, Pharmakon captures formative moments of the 20th century, the quirks of an American family and will enthrall fans of the novels of John Irving.

Click Here for the reading group guide.

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Swimming
by Nicola Keegan


A spectacular debut about the rise of an Olympic champion --- a novel about competition, the hunger for victory and a young girl with an unsinkable spirit.

"I loved Swimming. It's the most original novel I've read all year. I can't get Pip's voice out of my mind. Give yourself a treat this summer --- read this book." --Judy Blume

Click Here for the reading group guide.

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Lime Tree Can't Bear Orange
by Amanda Smyth


Written with great beauty and economy, Lime Tree Can't Bear Orange is the story of one woman's search for love and identity.

"The Caribbean's tropical sights and smells permeate Smyth's moving debut novel, but all is not paradise... Smyth paints a vivid portrait of a naive young girl who learns some hard truths about herself and her family, but though Celia's story is not always happy, it's arresting and powerful, a shining testament to human resilience." --The Miami Herald

Click Here for the reading group guide.

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Brodeck
by Philippe Claudel


"Claudel's style is very visual and evocative (he also wrote and directed the film I've Loved You So Long), and this novel, like the brothers Grimm fables, is full of terror, horror, and beauty and wonder." --Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

"Deeply wise and classically beautiful... Brodeck won the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens in the original French and John Cullen's English translation is as clear as a mountain stream. It is a modern masterpiece." --The Daily Telegraph

Click Here for the reading group guide.

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The Beijing of Possibilities
by Jonathan Tel


Blending humor with carefully observed details of life in Beijing, Jonathan Tel's short stories offer a rich and entertaining guide to the city and its many and varied inhabitants --- from a modern-day Monkey King to an equally contemporary indentured servant, from a boy tasting his first cotton candy to a Ming Dynasty princess posting her first online profile.

Click Here for the reading group guide.

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Chéri and The Last of Chéri (Movie Tie-in Edition)
by Colette


First published in 1920 and now a major motion picture starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Chéri is one of Colette's most admired novels and one of the most honest, sensual and poignant breakup stories ever written. Known as Chéri, Fred Peloux is a young playboy under the spell of Léa de Lonval, a courtesan twice his age. Once famous for her beauty and charisma, she must confront the reality of her fading good looks, along with Chéri's intention to marry a wealthy girl. Yet Chéri is deeply attached to Léa, and the feeling is mutual --- a realization neither lover can fully comprehend until they have abandoned their affair.

Click Here for the reading group guide.


The Distance Between Us
by Bart Yates

Now Available in Paperback:
Award-winning author Bart Yates's powerful and evocative novel of family, friendship...and the dual-edged nature of fame and talent.

After her bitter divorce at age 71, Hester rents her attic to a troubled young man, Alex. And along with her equally troubled children, she unwittingly exposes all the old family wounds. After a month of anguish and painful revealing memories, her budding friendship with Alex slowly allows her to come to terms with herself and her family. Their friendship provides her with the strength to fix what she can, and open her heart once again to love.

"Absorbing...brims with quiet intensity." --Publishers Weekly

Click Here for the reading group guide.


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The Outlander
by Gil Adamson


Now Available in Paperback:
In 1903 a mysterious young woman flees alone across the west, one heart-pounding step ahead of the law. At 19, she has just become a widow --- and her husband's murderer. As bloodhounds track Mary Boulton through the mountains, she is tormented by mad visions and by the knowledge that her two cold-blooded brothers-in-law are hot on her trail. As she flees further and further into the wilderness, and into the wilds of her own mind, she encounters an unforgettable cast of eccentrics along the way.

Click Here for the reading group guide.


For Christian Readers

A Different Kind of Wild: Is Your Faith Too Tame?
by Debbie Alsdorf


You were born to be WILD.

Not bad wild --- good wild, with a new zest for life, for Jesus, and for his thrilling, bold and creative plans for you. So grab your cheetah-print gear and start living the WILD life God has imagined for you --- a life bigger and grander than you ever thought possible.

Click Here for the reading group guide.


New Christian Guides

Registered Book Club Promotion


For July we have three very special opportunities for Registered Book Groups. Our featured titles this month are Happiness Key by Emilie Richards, The House at Sugar Beach by Helene Cooper and Lime Tree Can't Bear Orange by Amanda Smyth. Groups who have registered with us by Wednesday, July 15th have the chance to win author chats and/or free books. If your group is not registered, click here to register.

Click here for details.



New Guides

  • The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale: A very different kind of fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Shannon Hale.
  • The Air We Breathe by Andrea Barrett: Andrea Barrett masterfully sets this luminous novel in a historical period of great progress in science and medicine --- even in the art of war.
  • The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón: From master storyteller Carlos Ruiz Zafón comes The Angel's Game --- a dazzling new page-turner about the perilous nature of obsession, in literature and in love.
  • Beginner's Greek by James Collins: Beginner's Greek is a romantic comedy of the highest order, with characters who are perfectly, charmingly real as they swerve and stumble from fairy tale to social satire and back again.
  • The Beijing of Possibilities by Jonathan Tel: A surreally realistic chronicle of life in modern-day Beijing, featuring figures from a modern-day Monkey King to a Ming Dynasty princess posting her first online profile.
  • Bertie's War by Barbara Blakey: In the fall of 1961, the world goes crazy --- and takes a young girl with it.
  • The Best of Times by Penny Vincenzi: Penny Vincenzi delivers another brilliantly crafted page-turner centered on one devastating moment that will change lives forever.
  • Border Songs by Jim Lynch: By the acclaimed author of The Highest Tide, a novel about a distinctive community straddling the largely invisible boundary between Washington state and British Columbia.
  • Brodeck by Philippe Claudel: Winner of the 2007 Prix Goncourt des Lycéens, Brodeck is a lyrically dramatic account of a terrifying murder in a small town and the tortured soul chosen to tell the tale.
  • Censoring an Iranian Love Story written by Shahriar Mandanipour, translated by Sara Khalili: From one of Iran's most acclaimed writers, a dazzlingly inventive novel about what it's like to live, love and be an artist in today's Iran.
  • Certain Jeopardy by Capt. Jeff Struecker, with Alton Gansky: Certain Jeopardy is an immersing and pulsating fictional account of what really happens at every level of a stealth engagement.
  • Chéri and The Last of Chéri (Movie Tie-in Edition) by Colette: Chéri, now a major motion picture starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Kathy Bates, is one of the most honest, sensual and poignant breakup stories ever written.
  • Come Sunday by Isla Morley: Come Sunday, set in the hills of Hawaii and the veldt of South Africa, is that joyous, special thing: a saga that captivates from the very first page, breaking our hearts while making our spirits soar.
  • The Compass by Tammy Kling and John Spencer Ellis: The Compass is a life-transforming novel that will take you from where you are to where you want to be.
  • The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder by Rebecca Wells: The long-awaited new novel from Rebecca Wells, New York Times bestselling author of Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.
  • A Different Kind of Wild: Is Your Faith Too Tame? by Debbie Alsdorf: Join Debbie Alsdorf as she coaches you into the exhilarating process of developing as a woman of God.
  • The Distance Between Us by Bart Yates: Award-winning author Bart Yates's powerful and evocative novel of family, friendship...and the dual-edged nature of fame and talent.
  • An Elegy for Easterly by Petina Gappah: Set in the chaos and confusion of everyday life in Zimbabwe, Petina Gappah's debut collection, An Elegy for Easterly, is full of verve, wit and compassion.
  • Essie in Progress by Marjorie Presten: Told with a unique wit and a genuine Southern sensibility, Essie in Progress is a stirring story about realizing the life God has in store for you.
  • A Fatal Waltz: A Novel of Suspense by Tasha Alexander: Lady Emily Ashton reluctantly agrees to attend a party at the sprawling English country estate of a man she finds odious. But the despised Lord Fortescue is not to be her greatest problem.
  • Forsaken by James David Jordan: What would it take for you to renounce your faith in Christ? Author James David Jordan confronts readers with this challenging question in his new book, Forsaken.
  • The Frontiersman's Daughter by Laura Frantz: This epic novel gives you a glimpse into the simple yet daring lives of the pioneers who first crossed the Appalachians.
  • The Garden of Last Days by Andre Dubus III: In his stunning follow-up to the #1 bestselling House of Sand and Fog, Andre Dubus draws us into the lives of three deeply flawed, driven people whose paths intersect on a September night in Florida.
  • The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson: "A vivid, smartly calibrated achievement...a ghost story, family psychodrama, and murder mystery all in one." -- Entertainment Weekly
  • The Glassblower of Murano by Marina Fiorato: In this international bestseller, a woman leaves her life in London to embark on a grand exploration of life and love as a glassblower in the city of her ancestors: Venice.
  • A Good Indian Wife by Anne Cherian: First-time novelist Anne Cherian explores how immigrants, caught between two worlds, have to learn to overcome their own suspicions of others in order to find themselves.
  • Hallie's Heart by Shelly Beach: Winner of a Christy Award in 2008, an eccentric antique dealer and her 15-year-old niece struggle to find healing in this Mitford-type novel.
  • Happiness Key by Emilie Richards: Meet four women who think they have nothing in common except the oyster shell road that runs between their ramshackle beach cottages on a spit of land called Happiness Key.
  • The House at Sugar Beach: In Search of a Lost African Childhood by Helene Cooper: Helene Cooper's bestselling memoir is an account of her family's flight from Liberia, and her return 20 years later to find a foster sister left behind.
  • Impossible by Nancy Werlin: A beautifully wrought modern fairy tale from master storyteller and award-winning author Nancy Werlin.
  • An Irishwoman's Tale by Patti Lacy: Far away from her Irish home, Mary Freeman begins to adapt to life in Midwest America, but family turmoil and her own haunting memories threaten to ruin her future.
  • The Late, Lamented Molly Marx by Sally Koslow: Exploring the bonds of fidelity, family and friendship, The Late, Lamented Molly Marx is a hilarious, deeply moving and thought-provoking novel that is part mystery, part love story and all heart.
  • The Likeness by Tana French: With her richly nuanced characters and deep psychological insight, Tana French explores themes of self-invention, deception and the ways truth can emerge from even the most convincing disguises.
  • Lime Tree Can't Bear Orange by Amanda Smyth: Written with great beauty and economy, Lime Tree Can't Bear Orange is the story of one woman's search for love and identity.
  • Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore: An entertaining and touching novel about one small-town girl's search for her place in a much bigger world and finding that it was right where she began.
  • Love's First Light by Jamie Carie: Christophé, the Count of St. Laurent, has lost his entire family to the blood-soaked French Revolution and must flee to an ancient castle along the southern border of France to survive.
  • Love Finds You in Treasure Island, Florida by Debby Mayne: Can Amanda, whose mother and sister refuse to grow up, and Jerry, primary caretaker of aging parents, find the treasure of unconditional love?
  • Made in the U.S.A. by Billie Letts: The bestselling author of Where the Heart Is returns with a heartrending tale of two children in search of a place to call home.
  • Morningsong by Shelly Beach: In this highly-anticipated follow-up to the Christy Award-winning Hallie's Heart, a terrifying accident on the shores of Lake Michigan forces a woman to pick up the pieces of her life.
  • The Nine Lessons: A Novel of Love, Fatherhood, and Second Chances by Kevin Milne: August Witte is firmly against having children. But after seven years of marriage, his wife is delighted when she realizes she is unexpectedly pregnant.
  • The Outlander by Gil Adamson: An intoxicating debut novel reminiscent of early Cormac McCarthy, about a young murderess's desperate journey into the 1903 wilderness.
  • Oxygen by Carol Cassella: Oxygen is a riveting new novel by a real-life anesthesiologist, an intimate story of relationships and family that collides with a high-stakes medical drama.
  • The Painter from Shanghai by Jennifer Cody Epstein: "[An] engrossing story of a woman forced to choose between following her heart and pursuing her art." --Library Journal
  • Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal by Julie Metz: Perfection is the story of coming to terms with painful truths, of rebuilding both a life and an identity after betrayal and widowhood.
  • Pharmakon by Dirk Wittenborn: Pharmakon is a classic American epic about family, ambition and the price we are willing to pay for happiness.
  • A Pragmatist and His Free Spirit: The Half-Century Romance of Hu Shi & Edith Clifford Williams by Susan Chan Egan and Chih-p'ing Chou: This is an "East meets West" story, portraying the unconventional love of a Chinese civil rights activist and an American avant-garde artist.
  • The Road Home by Rose Tremain: In the wake of factory closings and his beloved wife's death, Lev makes his way from Eastern Europe to London, seeking work to support his mother and his little daughter.
  • The Secrets of Jin-shei by Alma Alexander: In an ancient kingdom, eight young women are bound together by Jin-shei: a vow of lifelong sisterhood --- a promise that is everlasting, a bond that cannot be broken, whatever the cost.
  • Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill: Kidnapped from Africa as a child, Aminata Diallo is enslaved in South Carolina but escapes during the chaos of the Revolutionary War.
  • Swimming by Nicola Keegan: A spectacular debut about the rise of an Olympic champion --- a novel about competition, the hunger for victory, and a young girl with an unsinkable spirit.
  • Talking to the Dead by Bonnie Grove: In this tender, quirky novel about embracing life, Grove patiently walks readers through the depths and mysteries of extreme sorrow after the death of a loved one.
  • Things Left Unspoken by Eva Marie Everson: Every family --- and every house --- has its secrets. Jo-Lynn Hunter isn't sure she wants to know the truth, but sometimes the truth has a way of making itself known.
  • A Thread of Truth by Marie Bostwick: Marie Bostwick's new novel A Thread of Truth weaves together new beginnings, old friends, and the rich, varied tapestry of lives fully lived. It's the perfect pick for books clubs as diverse and yet connected as sewing circles.
  • Trouble by Kate Christensen: A tragicomedy of marriage and friendship from Kate Christensen, the acclaimed author of The Great Man, winner of the 2008 PEN/Faulkner Award.
  • The Unit written by Ninni Holmqvist, translated by Marlaine Delargy: When Dorrit Weger turns 50, she is checked into the Unit. She is single, childless, and considered "dispensable" to society. But what happens when Dorrit falls in love inside the Unit? What will she do to get out?
  • What the Bayou Saw by Patti Lacy: Patti Lacy's second novel exposes the life of Sally, set amid the shadows of prejudice in Louisiana.
  • What We Remember by Michael Thomas Ford: Award-winning author Michael Thomas Ford's ambitious new novel will appeal to his core readership, but also fans of Julia Glass, Chris Bohjalian and Jodi Picoult.
  • The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story by Diane Ackerman: After their zoo was bombed, Polish zookeepers Jan and Antoninia Zabinski managed to save over 300 people from Nazi racism by hiding refugees in the empty animal cages.

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

Off Season by Anne Rivers Siddons
Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross


This month's prize:
The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder by Rebecca Wells


Oprah's Book Club Selection
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski


Get a Book Club Makeover
Whether your book club is just a few months old or has been around for a while, you might be in need of a Book Club Makeover from ReadingGroupGuides.com. After reading your emails --- and talking to book clubs across the country --- we see that book groups often can fall into a routine and need a bit of livening up. It's ReadingGroupGuides.com to the rescue! We'll select groups each month for makeovers, review the problems, and make suggestions. Interested in a Book Club Makeover for your group? Click here for details.

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