Monday, September 14, 2009

September 2009

The following features and discussion guides began running on ReadingGroupGuides.com on Thursday, September 10th.

The titles below are also mentioned in the ReadingGroupGuides.com Newsletter Opener, which can be read here:

-31 Hours by Masha Hamilton
-Apples and Oranges: My Brother and Me, Lost and Found by Marie Brenner
-Confessions of a Falling Woman by Debra Dean
-Day After Night by Anita Diamant
-The Help by Kathryn Stockett
-The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean
-The Mercy Rule by Perri Klass
-The Millionaires by Inman Majors
-On Gold Mountain by Lisa See
-Peony in Love by Lisa See
-The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
-Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
-Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See



Special Features and Contest
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Win a Copy of SERENA by Ron Rash for Your Group

Ecco is launching a special contest to celebrate the upcoming paperback release of Ron Rash's acclaimed Serena, a riveting novel of timber barons in Depression-era North Carolina which, at its core, tells of love both honored and betrayed. Twenty-five readers will have the opportunity to each win one copy of the hardcover edition of Serena to consider adopting for their book clubs in paperback, which will be available on September 29th wherever books are sold.

More about Serena:
Serena and George Pemberton arrive in North Carolina in 1929 to build a timber empire for themselves. What follows is an astonishing and gothic tale of greed, power, and the shocking intersection of both violence and beauty. Serena is a fantastic book club pick because, like the best historical fiction, it asks us to draw essential parallels between the events of the past and those that characterize the way we live now.

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


Win a Copy of A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS by R.J. Ellory for Your Group

We are celebrating the American release of A Quiet Belief in Angels by R.J. Ellory --- a beautiful yet haunting novel that blends literary style into a compelling crime story --- with a special contest. 100 readers will have the opportunity to each win one finished copy of A Quiet Belief in Angels, which is now available in stores, for their group.

More about A Quiet Belief in Angels:
Growing up in rural Georgia during the 1940s, Joseph Vaughan finds himself at the center of a series of mutilations and killings of young girls. The killers are never caught, and Joseph, an aspiring writer, continues to be haunted by the murders. Years later he sets out to forge a new life in New York. But even there the past won't leave him alone --- for it seems that the murderer still lives and is killing again, and that the secret to his identity lies in Joseph's own history.

A Quiet Belief in Angels offers readers a thrilling --- and often chilling --- tale that not only evokes strong emotions but asks important questions about our own morality.

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



New and Recommended Fiction


The Fire
by Katherine Neville


Now Available in Paperback:
Long a book club favorite for the richness of its international themes, The Eight may also have "paved the way" for the reemergence of a timeless genre: the Quest novel (Publishers Weekly).

Today, that same "Game" resumes, in force, in the dazzling sequel: The Fire. When the most critical piece of Charlemagne's chess set, the Black Queen, suddenly emerges, the quest leads us from 8th century Baghdad to the wilds of Colorado, to Albania, Russia, Rome, Morocco and into a secret wilderness no one knows about --- hidden at the very heart of Washington, DC.

Click Here for the reading group guide.

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Oxygen
by Carol Cassella


Now available in paperback is Carol Cassella's riveting national bestseller --- an "involving debut that's just what the doctor ordered" (People). This gripping novel follows anesthesiologist Dr. Marie Heaton, who seeks to understand the death of a child patient during surgery, while also coping with her own aging father and confronting questions of love and betrayal, family bonds and the price of her own choices. With a final twist as heartrending as it is redeeming, Oxygen is an incredible story.

Click Here for the reading group guide.

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Once on a Moonless Night
by Dai Sijie

From the author of the beloved bestseller Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, a haunting tale of love and the beguiling power of a lost language. Following the trail of a lost silk scroll said to contain a story originated by the Buddha himself, Once on a Moonless Night opens with emperor Hui Zong, passes through the life of enigmatic French linguist Paul d'Ampère, and ends with a student's search for her lost love.

Click Here for the reading group guide.

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A Gate at the Stairs
by Lorrie Moore


The long-awaited new novel --- a book of stunning power --- by the heralded author of Birds of America. Set just after the events of September 2001, about a 20-year-old woman from a small Midwestern farm, making her way, coming of age. Under the novel's languid surface, Lorrie Moore's deft writing brings us up against the heart of racism, the shock of war and the carelessness perpetrated against others in the name of love.

Click Here for the reading group guide.

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Slumberland
by Paul Beatty


Now Available in Paperback:
Ferocious, bombastic and hilarious, Slumberland is vintage Paul Beatty and belongs on the shelf next to Jonathan Lethem, Colson Whitehead and Junot Diaz. In this widely praised novel of race, identity and underground music, DJ Darky has created the perfect beat. Now, he must seek out Charles Stone, a little known avant-garde jazzman, who can help bring his sonic masterpiece to fruition.

Click Here for the reading group guide.

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The Truth About Love
by Josephine Hart


From the author of Damage, a new novel that opens in a small Irish town in the 1960s with the accidental death of a teenage boy who commits one final, heartrending act of love. Three brilliantly realized voices speak the story into existence. Moment by moment we come to understand how these narrators are shaped in essential ways by the boy's death and by what they learn from one another about loss and love.

Click Here for the reading group guide.


By the Time You Read This
by Lola Jaye

When he found out he only had 6 months to live, Kevin Bates picked up his pen and wrote "The Manual" --- a missive filled with advice to guide his then five-year-old daughter Lois from thirteen to thirty, with entries to be read only on successive birthdays. As the years progress, Lois learns from her father's words in a touching reminder of love's ability to transcend even the most unlikely of obstacles.

Click Here for the reading group guide.


Time of My Life
by Allison Winn Scotch

Now Available in Paperback:
Jillian Westfield has a life straight out of the women's magazines she obsessively reads. Yet somehow she can't seem to fix her faltering marriage or stop asking "What if?" Then one morning Jillian wakes up seven years in the past. She's back in her Manhattan apartment. She's back in her fast-paced job. And she's still with Jackson, the ex-boyfriend, and star of her what-if fantasies. Armed with 20-20 hindsight, she's free to choose all over again. Or is she?

Click Here for the reading group guide.

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One Foot Wrong
by Sofie Laguna


Hester Wakefield has never spoken to any person other than her parents, or seen the outside world. Her days consist of religious observance, chores and punishments. One day, Hester ventures outside and is overwhelmed by the beauty of sunshine, sky and trees. From this moment on, Hester learns that there are some things she cannot tell her parents. Hester's secrets begin to grow and she keeps them locked away in the shadowy corners of her insular world, waiting until she can find other ways to be free.

Click Here for the reading group guide.

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The Twelve
by William Gladstone


The Twelve is an extraordinary, unforgettable novel about Max Doff, a most unusual man who ventures on a journey of destiny to discover the secret behind the ancient Mayan prophecy about the "end of time," foretold to occur on December 21, 2012. The Twelve, a novel that Eckhart Tolle calls "Entertaining and inspiring," will capture the imagination of a generation as readers embark on a journey to save the world.

Click Here for the reading group guide.

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The Sari Shop Widow
by Shobhan Bantwal


Anjali made her peace with being a widow at 27 --- by pouring her grief into a chic shopper's paradise selling rare ethnic Indian clothing, accessories and jewelry --- until she meets Rishi. Her reluctance to wed again begins to recede, when she realizes it can open a whole new world to her...far beyond the shop, and way beyond Little India.

Click Here for the reading group guide.


New and Recommended Nonfiction


Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence -- and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process
by Irene M. Pepperberg


Irene was 28 when she bought Alex, a one-year old African gray parrot. Little did she know that 30 years later Alex would pass away as the smartest --- and most famous --- parrot to ever live. The first parrot to create words and show emotion, Alex was much more than a pet and research subject. Alex & Me is ultimately a book about the universal truths of relationships, just as much as an astonishing scientific journey.

Click Here for the reading group guide.


For Christian Readers

New Christian Guides

Registered Book Club Promotion


For September we have two very special opportunities for Registered Book Groups. Our featured titles this month are The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel by Maureen Lindley and Under the Cajun Moon by Mindy Starns Clark. Groups who have registered with us by Wednesday, September 16th 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


  • Alex & Me: How a Scientist and a Parrot Discovered a Hidden World of Animal Intelligence -- and Formed a Deep Bond in the Process by Irene Pepperberg: Irene was 28 when she bought Alex, a one-year-old African gray parrot. Little did she know that 30 years later Alex would pass away as the smartest --- and most famous --- parrot to ever live.
  • Alexander and Alestria by Shan Sa: The imaginative tale of the dramatic love affair between Alexander the Great and Alestria, queen of the Amazons, when both are at the height of their powers.
  • America Libre by Raul Ramos y Sanchez: When undercover detectives in San Antonio accidentally kill a young Latina bystander during a botched drug bust, riots erupt across the Southwest.
  • The Believer by Ann H. Gabhart: A romantic story of two people caught up in the storms of life.
  • Blame by Michelle Huneven: Blame is a spellbinding novel of guilt and love, family and shame, sobriety and the lack of it, and the moral ambiguities that ensnare us all.
  • The Blue Star by Tony Earley: This is a timeless and moving story of discovery, loss and growing up, proving why Tony Earley's writing "radiates with a largeness of heart" (Esquire).
  • The Boy Next Door by Irene Sabatini: The Way We Were set in Zimbabwe after independence, a moving and powerful love story set against the backdrop of political upheaval.
  • By the Time You Read This by Lola Jaye: Already a national bestseller in the U.K., Lola Jaye's By the Time You Read This is a profoundly beautiful story of a father's abiding love for the daughter he will never see grow up.
  • A Change in Altitude by Anita Shreve: The new novel about the fragility of a young marriage from one of our greatest chroniclers of the mysteries of the human heart.
  • The Confessions of Edward Day by Valerie Martin: Valerie Martin brilliantly recreates the theater world of 1970s and 1980s New York and plays with the boundary between reality and performance amongst a group of thespians.
  • Damas, Dramas, and Ana Ruiz: A Quinceañera Club Novel by Belinda Acosta: "...a book about damas of all ages, from teenage girls to the struggling mothers of those teenage girls..." --Julia Alvarez, author of Return to Sender
  • An Eye for an Eye: Heroes of Quantico Series, Book 2 by Irene Hannon: A fast-paced tale of romance, suspense and intrigue, An Eye for an Eye is the exciting second book in the Heroes of Quantico series.
  • The Fire by Katherine Neville: The spectacular chess game in The Eight --- which captivated readers with exotic locales, fascinating historic figures and a labyrinthine plot --- returns in force in the dazzling sequel: The Fire!
  • Fools Rush In: Weddings by Bella, Book 1 by Janice Thompson: Fun, fresh and full of surprises, this flavorful combination of Italian and Tex-Mex highlights the hilarity that ensues when cultures clash.
  • A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore: A dazzling new novel by the author of Birds of America --- an ambitious book about post-9/11 anxiety, race, war and love.
  • The Geography of Love by Glenda Burgess: A poignant exploration of the depths of the human heart and our ability to love and to trust no matter the obstacles.
  • Girl Trouble: Stories by Holly Goddard Jones: Rona Jaffe Award winner Holly Goddard Jones's debut short story collection, set around small-town Southerners caught in moral and sometimes mortal quandaries.
  • The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson: In the electrifying follow-up to the bestselling The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Lisbeth Salander, the troubled genius hacker, is drawn into a murderous hunt.
  • Good-bye and Amen by Beth Gutcheon: The follow-up to the critically acclaimed novel Leeway Cottage follows the newest generation of the Moss family as they gather at their summer home in Maine.
  • The Hope of Refuge: An Ada's House Novel by Cindy Woodsmall: Cara and her daughter must run to escape a deadly threat. Can they find refuge in an Amish community with complex, unspoken ties to her family history?
  • The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb: A profound and heart-rending work of fiction. Wally Lamb proves himself a virtuoso storyteller, assembling a variety of voices and an ensemble of characters rich enough to evoke all of humanity.
  • How Does it Feel to be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America by Moustafa Bayoumi: Moustafa Bayoumi offers a glimpse into the often-ignored struggles a group of twenty-something Arab Americans face.
  • I'm So Happy for You: A Novel About Best Friends by Lucinda Rosenfeld: A smart, darkly humorous and uncannily dead-on novel about female friendship.
  • Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea: Filled with unforgettable characters and prose as radiant as the Sinaloan sun, Into the Beautiful North is the story of an irresistible young woman's quest to find herself on both sides of the fence.
  • In the Heart of the Canyon by Elisabeth Hyde: From the author of The Abortionist's Daughter, a novel about a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon that changes the lives of everyone on board.
  • Israel is Real: An Obsessive Quest to Understand the Jewish Nation and its History by Rich Cohen: Breaking through the heated polemics and intractable politics, Israel is Real is a fresh voice, a tale of people and ideas, of the background of present-day Israel. It's a new approach to a story we thought we knew.
  • June Bug by Chris Fabry: Publishers Weekly calls June Bug "a lovely, moving, present-day account of sacrifice."
  • The Justice Game by Randy Singer: In his new legal thriller, Randy Singer explores the unseen forces controlling two lawyers involved in a lawsuit against a gun company.
  • The King's Daughter: A Novel of the First Tudor Queen by Sandra Worth: In this groundbreaking novel, award-winning author Sandra Worth vividly brings to life the people's queen, "Elizabeth the Good."
  • Labor Day by Joyce Maynard: Acclaimed author Joyce Maynard weaves a beautiful, poignant tale of love, sex, adolescence and devastating treachery seen through the eyes of a young teenage boy.
  • The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry: The Lace Reader is a mesmerizing tale that spirals into a world of secrets, confused identities, lies and half-truths.
  • The Lost Dog by Michelle de Kretser: Tom Loxley, an Indian-Australian professor, is less concerned with finishing his book on Henry James than with finding his dog, who is lost in the Australian bush.
  • A Mercy by Toni Morrison: An ambivalent, disturbing story of a mother and a daughter --- a mother who casts off her daughter in order to save her, and a daughter who may never exorcise that abandonment.
  • Mistress of the Vatican: The True Story of Olimpia Maidalchini: The Secret Female Pope by Eleanor Herman: A scintillating biography of a powerful yet little-known woman whose remarkable story is ripe with secrets, sex, passion and ambition.
  • The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi: In the tradition of Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City, Douglas Preston weaves a captivating account of crime and punishment in the lush hills of Florence, Italy.
  • My Name is Will: A Novel of Sex, Drugs, and Shakespeare by Jess Winfield: In this retelling of William Shakespeare's youth, his story is paired with that of another Shakespeare: a struggling graduate student in Reagan-era California.
  • The Night Counter by Alia Yunis: Shifting between the U.S. and the Middle East, first-time novelist Alia Yunis pieces together four generations of family secrets in this hilarious, heartwarming debut that creates a vibrant mosaic of modern Arab American life.
  • The Night Gardener by George Pelecanos: George Pelecanos achieves in The Night Gardener what his brilliant career has been building toward: a novel that is a perfect union of suspense, character and unstoppable fate.
  • No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process by Colin Beavan: What would your life be like if you had zero impact on the environment? Colin Beavan tackled this question, embarking on a yearlong experiment with his wife and their toddler.
  • Once on a Moonless Night by Dai Sijie: From the author of Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, a haunting tale of love and the beguiling power of a lost language.
  • One Foot Wrong by Sofie Laguna: For Hester, the only child of religiously reclusive parents, the outside world is forbidden. But once she catches a glimpse of what she's been missing, escaping her sheltered life becomes something worth fighting for.
  • The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel by Maureen Lindley: An electrifying epic page-turner, based on the incredible true story of a princess turned spy.
  • A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison by R. Dwayne Betts: A beautifully, brutally honest memoir about one imprisoned boy's harrowing journey towards freedom and manhood.
  • A Quiet Belief in Angels by R.J. Ellory: A thrilling --- and often chilling --- tale that not only evokes strong emotions but asks important questions about our own morality.
  • Reasons for and Advantages of Breathing: Stories by Lydia Peelle: Lydia Peelle brings together eight brilliant stories --- two of which won Pushcart Prizes and one of which won an O. Henry Prize --- that peer straight into the human heart.
  • Requiem of the Human Soul by Jeremy R. Lent: The human race is on trial at the U.N. in the late 22nd century. At stake... its continued existence.
  • The Sacred Cipher by Terry Brennan: More historically and biblically accurate than The Da Vinci Code and just as adventurous as an Indiana Jones movie, The Sacred Cipher draws readers into a world of ancient secrets and international escapades.
  • The Sari Shop Widow by Shobhan Bantwal: Shobhan Bantwal's compelling new novel is set on the streets of Edison, New Jersey's Little India, where a young businesswoman rediscovers the magic of love and family.
  • Say You're One of Them by Uwem Akpan: Each story in this collection is a testament to the wisdom and resilience of children, even in the face of the most agonizing situations our planet can offer.
  • A Separate Country by Robert Hicks: Set in New Orleans in the years after the Civil War, A Separate Country is based on the incredible life of John Bell Hood, arguably one of the most controversial generals of the Confederate Army --- and one of its most tragic figures.
  • Serena by Ron Rash: A gothic tale of greed, corruption and revenge set against the backdrop of the 1930s wilderness and America's burgeoning environmental movement.
  • Sisters & Husbands by Connie Briscoe: Ten years have passed since Sisters and Lovers, and Beverly, now 39, is engaged to Julian, a man her family and friends agree is the epitome of a great catch.
  • Skunk: A Love Story by Justin Courter: This darkly hilarious novel follows a social outcast who develops a bizarre addiction that he eventually overcomes when he discovers love.
  • Slumberland by Paul Beatty: Critical darling Paul Beatty's highly original, widely praised novel of race, identity and underground music.
  • South of Broad by Pat Conroy: The one and only Pat Conroy returns with a big, sprawling novel that is a love letter to Charleston and an ode to lifelong friendship.
  • Stand the Storm by Breena Clarke: Even though Sewing Annie Coats and her son, Gabriel, have managed to buy their freedom, their lives are still marked by constant struggle and sacrifice.
  • A Summer Affair by Elin Hilderbrand: Hearts break and emotions are pushed to the limit in this riveting story of one woman's attempt to deal with loves past and present, family, business and high-powered social pressures.
  • Sweetwater Run by Jan Watson: In 1891 in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, two young women stand at a crossroads. As they struggle with the realities of life, both learn to rely on their faith above all else.
  • Sweet Waters: An Otter Bay Novel by Julie Carobini: After returning to her hometown, a young woman begins to uncover shocking secrets about why her family left this heaven on earth all those years ago.
  • A Taste of Fame: The Potluck Catering Club by Linda Evans Shepherd and Eva Marie Everson: A Taste of Fame serves up the perfect blend of humor, misadventure and mouthwatering recipes. Fans new and old will love this exciting trip into the wild world of competitive cooking!
  • That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo: Richard Russo tells the story of a marriage and all the other ties that bind, from parents and in-laws to children and the promises of youth.
  • Time of My Life by Allison Winn Scotch: One morning Jillian wakes up seven years in the past, and armed with 20-20 hindsight, she's free to choose all over again.
  • To Love What Is: A Marriage Transformed by Alix Kates Shulman: In this elegant memoir, Alix Kates Shulman describes the ongoing anxieties and risks --- and surprising rewards --- she experiences as she reorganizes her world to care for her husband.
  • The Truth About Love by Josephine Hart: From the author of Damage, a novel that opens with the accidental death of a teenage boy who commits one final, heartrending act of love.
  • The Twelve by William Gladstone: What will happen in 2012? The Mayans predicted the end of the world. In his novel The Twelve, William Gladstone forecasts a new beginning as the fate of all humanity rests in the balance.
  • Two Brothers: One North, One South by David H. Jones: Navigated by Walt Whitman and based on real people and events, Two Brothers: One North, One South is the quintessential story of the Civil War.
  • Under the Cajun Moon by Mindy Starns Clark: Mindy Starns Clark offers an exciting stand-alone novel, one full of Cajun mystery, hidden dangers and the glow of God's unending grace.
  • Valley of the Shadow by Tom Pawlik: In this sequel to the award-winning novel, Vanish, Tom Pawlik explores the murky world between life and death, where your worst fears can become reality.
  • The Virgin's Daughters: In the Court of Elizabeth I by Jeane Westin: The story of Elizabeth I, as it's never been told before --- through the eyes of two ladies-in-waiting closest to her...
  • Wait Until Twilight by Sang Pak: Sang Pak's Wait Until Twilight is a coming-of-age story that explores the complex darkness infecting a damaged psyche in a small Southern town.
  • The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf: Masterfully written and beautifully told, Heather Gudenkauf's debut is a stunning novel of family devotion, honesty and regret that will linger long after the last page is turned.
  • Whatsoever Things are Lovely: Must-Have Accessories for God's Perfect Peace by Rhonda Rhea: Using Philippians 4:8-9 as a springboard, Rhonda Rhea takes you on a fun adventure that can help you lead a more fruitful, blessed and peace-filled life.
  • The Widow's Season by Laura Brodie: A lyrical, mysterious novel about a young, seemingly haunted, widow, inspired by Renaissance plays where husbands faked their deaths in order to spy on their wives.
  • Worldweavers: Cybermage by Alma Alexander: When Thea Winthrop and her friends are called in by the Federal Bureau of Magic to unlock a mysterious cube left behind by Nikola Tesla, they find themselves in a race against time.
  • www.queenmotorhome.com by Patt Fero: www.queenmotorhome.com is a story about two baby boomer-aged best friends who run away from home in a motor home.


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


This month's prize:
A Change in Altitude by Anita Shreve


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

*Oprah's new title will be announced on Friday, September 18th.


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.


Click here to read the September 2009 edition of the ReadingGroupGuides.com newsletter.

Click here to visit the ReadingGroupGuides.com homepage.

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