Review? Haiku! Giftcard Giveaway at Fyrefly’s Book Blog

In honor of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, Fyrefly’s Book Blog is hosting a giveaway! She says:

We all love reading and writing book reviews, but let’s face it, even the most straight-forward of us gets a little wordy at times. After reading Adventures in Reading’s post on book reviews vs. blurbs, I decided to see if I could hone my conciseness to a point by fitting my reviews into haiku form. This isn’t an idea that’s unique to me; my friend A was reviewing books on LibraryThing in this format for a while, and I know others have done it before her. Still, once I got started, I found it hard to stop! 

Well, a poet I’m not!  But I had to try my hand at this, so I used 3 Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and Capote in Kansas by Kim Powers for inspiration, and quickly came up with three haikus.  I’m not pretending they’re good or anything!!  But Fyrefly is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card, so what the heck.

 

He builds schools for girls

Pakistan, Afghanistan’s

American friend.

 

He saw their hopes, dreams

to educate their daughters

and live better lives. 

 

 

 

 

Late night drunken calls

Mockingbirds want privacy

Ghosts demand answers

 

What about you?  Can you review in haiku?

Book Blogger Appreciation Week, Day One

Whew!  I’m getting this post in right under the wire!  Today (Monday) is the first day of Book Blogger Appreciation Week.  In an awesome display of organization and enthusiasm, My Friend Amy has put together this week of gratitude for all of us hardworking book bloggers.  Here is our assignment for Day One:

The gloom and doom news tries to tell us that reading is dead, we say look at our addiction. We transform reading books from solitary activities to shared conversations through our blogs. We carve out extra time to share book club tips, interview authors, and learn about the technical aspects of blogging. Our blogs are like a part-time job and the only payment is the pleasure we get when someone takes us up on a recommendation.

To get us started…write a post thanking or highlighting the book blogs you love to read!

This is so difficult for me, as I follow so many wonderful blogs, so I’m highlighting just a handful of blogs that weren’t listed in the voting for BBAW (many of my favorites were, but somehow these got robbed!!).  They are:

Jill at Fizzy Thoughts:  I love Jill, aka Softdrink.  She’s my twin, except way cooler and more laid back.  She writes straight-shooting book reviews, but she also loves to travel (check out her incredible flickr photos!), and her surfer dude significant other, Hamburger, occasionally gets a mention.

Julie at Booking Mama:  Ah, Julie.  I remember waaaay back in early 2008 when she was a little newbie blogger asking for my advice and thinking I was all wise (Ha!  I’d only been blogging a couple of months myself!)  Julie has created an amazing blog chock full of reviews, guest posts, author interviews, and more.  This girl is a reading machine, cranking out several reviews a week.  She doesn’t share much about her personal life but my guess is that she ignores her family in favor of reading!!  (And really, who doesn’t??) She’s always so nice and constantly giving stuff away.  And her blog is Pepto Bismol pink, but I don’t hold that against her!

Stephanie at Stephanie’s Written Word:  Stephanie is the reason I started blogging.  She’s incredibly kind and generous with her words and experiences, always helping others.  She writes fabulous book reviews, but that’s not why I love her blog.  I love reading about her family (she and her husband have two gorgeous girls, adopted from China), I love seeing her scrapbook pages (many of them have been published in magazines), and now I have an even more compelling reason to read her blog.  She lost her mom this summer to cancer, then two weeks later was diagnosed with breast cancer herself.  She is being so honest and courageous, inspiring others (myself included) to go get checked out.  I think she is so brave.

Dawn at She Is Too Fond of Books:  and it has addled her brain!  Dawn is doing some really fun stuff with her blog.  One new feature I really like is called SOBs- Spotlight on Bookstores, where bloggers tell about special bookstores they love.  She’s got guest posts, she’s got giveaways, she’s got book reviews-  She’s got it all!  And she’s also just a very cool person, someone I’d love to know IRL.

Who are your favorite, must-read bloggers who somehow didn’t make the final cut for BBAW?  

Sunday Salon

I love Sundays, but I especially love the 2nd Sunday of each month, because that’s when my book club meets.  This afternoon I’ll be at my friend Sara’s house, wine glass in hand, no kids in sight, eating good food and having adult conversations, ahhhhhhh.  Today we’ll be discussing 3 Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson, and while it wasn’t my favorite book of the year, I know others liked it, and we’ll have plenty to talk about.  We will also vote on our winter selections (December, January, and February).  I’m going to be suggesting the following (if you’ve read any of these, I’d love to hear your thoughts):

Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Chez Moi by Agnes Desarthe

This week I’ve been reading Capote in Kansas: A Ghost Story by Kim Powers, which will be on tour for TLC in October (because who doesn’t like a good ghost story in October?)  It’s about the haunting of Truman Capote (In Cold Blood) and Harper Lee (To Kill a Mocking Bird) by members of the murdered Cutter family, immortalized in Capote’s book.  I’m also reading the dreamlike Oystercatchers by Susan Fletcher, which I received from the publisher, W.W. Norton.  This one is about sisters Amy and Moira.  Amy lies in a coma after an accident, and Moira is at her bedside spilling out her life story.  After the first few chapters I’m getting the impression that Moira had something to do with the accident, but it’s not clear yet exactly what happened, so I will have to keep reading… 

Tomorrow is the kick off for Book Blogger Appreciation Week, organized by My Friend Amy! To celebrate, I’ll be giving away a signed paperback copy of Matrimony by Josh Henkin- the hardest working author/book promoter in town.  His book is everywhere, but you’ll have a chance to win your copy here (assuming you haven’t already won a copy elsewhere!) beginning tomorrow.  In addition to that, there will be a ridiculous amount of giveaways all over the place!  RIDICULOUS!  I’m not kidding!  What, you don’t believe me???  Ok, fine.  I’ll have to prove it.  I was just going to put the link here and ask you to take my word for it, but I guess I’ll have to copy the whole thing (and it’s just a coincidence that by posting it, I get extra entries in the raffle).  Take a look:

 

Daily Raffles:
Monday–Books and Chocolate sponsored by My Friend Amy and Hey Lady! Whatcha’ Readin?
Tuesday–Books and Going Green sponsored by My Friend Amy
Wednesday–Books and Coffee sponsored by My Friend Amy
Thursday–Books and Charity sponsored by My Friend Amy and Fashionista Piranha
Friday–Books and Movies sponsored by My Friend Amy

 
Win a Book Club Girl Hostess Survival Kit!
Do you find it’s your turn to host book club and not only do you not know what to serve but you don’t know what books to offer up for the next month’s selection?! Let Book Club Girl come to your rescue with the Book Club Girl Hostess Survival Kit.

One lucky winner of the kit will receive:

* A basket of cheese, crackers, cookies and wine for up to 12 people
* 5 great book group books to vote on for your group’s next pick. And Book Club Girl will then donate 12 copies whichever book is chosen for your entire group to read.
* 12 Book Club Girl mousepads to give out as party favors that night
* 12 Book Club Girl bookmarks to mark everyone’s favorite passages
* 12 Book Club Girl coasters to protect your coffee table from all those wine glasses!

TWO SORMAG Goody Bags containing books and more!

A Special Pamper Me Basket from Cafe of Dreams!
From Avon Foot Works
~ Inflatable watermelon shaped foot tub
~ 3.4 FL oz Watermelon Cooling Foot Lotion
~ 3.4 FL oz Watermelon Exfoliating Foot Scrub
~ 12 count Watermelon Effervescent Foot Tablets
~ An ARC of So Long At The Fair by Christina Schwarz
~ A variety of Hot Chocolate and Tea mixes

A pre-made blog template from SNSDesign!

A Subscription to Poetry Magazine from Savvy Verse and Wit!

BOOKS
Mistress of the Revolution by Catherine Delors
The Moon in the Mango Tree by Pamela Binnings Ewen
The Spanish Bow by Andromeda Romano-Lax
John’s Quest by Cecelia Dowdy
Confessions of a Contractor by Richard Murphy
Acedia & Me by Kathleen Norris
The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell
The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks
The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer
Supreme Courtship by Christopher Buckley
A Tale Out of Luck by Willie Nelson with Mike Blakely
The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent
When Will There Be Good News by Kate Atkinson
An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken
Exit Music by Ian Rankin
The Smart One and the Pretty One by Claire LaZebnik
Gunmetal Black by Daniel Serrano
Isolation by Travis Thrasher
The Miracle Girls by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt
Every Freaking! Day With Rachell Ray by Elizabeth Hilts
Dewey by Vicki Myron
The Shiniest Jewel by Marian Henley
Keep the Faith by Faith Evans
The Book of Calamities by Peter Trachtenberg
A is for Atticus by Lorilee Craker
After the Fire by Robin Gaby Fisher
Mike’s Election Guide by Michael Moore
War as They Knew It by Michael Rosenberg
Fixing Hell By Col. (ret.) Larry C. James 
Wild Boy: My Life with Duran Duran by Andy Taylor
The Last Under-Cover: The True Story of an FBI Agent’s Dangerous Dance with Evil By Bob Hamer
Border Lass by Amanda Scott
Insatiable Desire by Rita Heron
Hungry for More by Diana Holquist
Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee
Trespassers Will Be Baptized by Elizabeth Emerson Hancock
He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not by Trish Ryan
Never Surrender by General Jerry Boykin
Dream in Color by Congresswoman Linda Sánchez, Congresswoman Loretta Sánchez
Beyond Belief by Josh Hamilton
Cobain Unseen by Charles R. Cross
Doing Business in 21st Century India by Gunjan Bagla
Branding Only Works on Cattle by Jonathan Salem Baskin
Launching a Leadership Revolution by Chris Brady, Orrin Woodward
How to Hear from God by Joyce Meyer
Knowing Right from Wrong by Thomas D. Williams
Pope John Paul II: An Intimate Life by Caroline Pigozzi
Pure by Rebecca St. James
He Loves Me! by Wayne Jacobson
So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore by Wayne Jacobson and Dave Coleman
Move On, Move Up by Paula White
The Rosary by Gary Jansen
Shoot the Moon by Billie Letts
The Choice by Nicholas Sparks
Right Livelihoods by Rick Moody
by George by Wesley Stace
The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold
Trunk Music by Michael Connelly
Hollywood Crows by Joseph Wambaugh
Dead Boys by Richard Lange
The Gifted Gabaldon Sisters by Lorraine Lopez
Sisterchicks Go Brit! by Robin Jones Gunn
Beyond the Night by Marlo Schalesky
With Endless Sight by Allison Pittman
Harlequin Titles: To Be Announced

Many other blogs are giving away books and prizes for BBAW as well! You can see the links to all of these giveaways here.

I told you it was RIDICULOUS!!  Happy BBAW to all the bloggers out there!  And to everybody, have a great week!

Book Blogger Appreciation Week Awards: Time to VOTE!

My Friend Amy (she isn’t really my friend, although I do like her- that’s just the name of her blog) has posted the list of awards finalists for her Book Blogger Appreciaton Week.  Get ready to cast your votes over at Amy’s blog!

Thanks to all my fans!

Thanks to all my fans!

The list of nominees and categories is really long, so I won’t copy it here, but go visit Amy and check it out. I was quite shocked and thrilled to see my blog’s name on the list, in 2 different categories- Best Book Club Blog and Best Design (brag, brag, boast, boast!)  Sorry, I know that’s obnoxious, I’m just so excited!  I’m sure the other nominees will blow me right out of the water, but it’s an honor just to be nominated, right?  RIGHT?  Geez, I have to decide what to wear on the red carpet.  And get my roots done.  And go to the gym!  And my toenails need some work!  Maybe I can borrow some sexy shoes and some bling bling to go with my dress.  I wonder if there will be champagne and paparazzi..  yeah, a girl can dream, right?

Along with my own blog, Books on the Brain (Braggy McBragger), I’m also pleased to see several blogs that I’ve never had the pleasure to visit, along with so many of my bloggy friends and favorites.  I’ll be adding a few more blogs to my Google Reader, I’m sure.

Go see My Friend Amy and vote for your favorites [[subliminal message—>Books on the Brain is my favorite book blog]]!  The winners will be announced on September 18th.

The Sunday Salon

Sunday has arrived in all it’s glory! My house is super QUIET with my husband and kids away at a friend’s horse jumping competition, so you’d think I’d be reading, but you’d be wrong. I am busy busy busy alternately procrastinating and working on a zillion things that have been left undone all week as I have been cavorting with the kiddos- laundry and dishes and bathrooms, oh my!

The only reading I’ve been able to get in this week has been during the 45 minutes my kids were in their swim class each day. My younger one gets mad if I’m not watching her dives or her butterfly stroke, so I have to continuously be looking up in case she happens to glance my way. I’ve only finished one book this week, and it happens to be the one I’m giving away tomorrow- Queen of the Road by Doreen Orion! It’s a good one, so if you haven’t entered my giveaway and would like a chance to win, click HERE to find out how. You have until Monday 7/28 at midnight PST.

As much as I liked Queen of the Road- and I really did! It was very funny and great for the summer travel season- I am really anxious to find a book and be utterly BLOWN AWAY by it. I mean BUH-LOOOOOOWN AWAY. It’s been awhile since something has completely knocked me out. Suggestions, anyone? I don’t want to hear about anything that’s pretty good, pleasant, ok, not bad, nice– give me something freakin’ fantastic, if you can!!

I’ve been checking out lots of blogs recently, again in an effort to be WOWed by something. I’ve been reading the same blogs for months, almost always book blogs, and not venturing too far out beyond my blog roll (not that they aren’t all wonderful and consistently good!!) but recently I started to branch out a bit and have found some really awesome, new (to me) blogs. One that is just amazing for it’s photography is appropriately called BLISS. She shoots in and around her home in beautiful Portland and her kids are a favorite subject. Another cool blog I’ve been stopping by recently is Hooked on Houses. Julia from HOH is a self described real estate junkie and lover of homes, big and small. If you love houses, check her out! One other one that I want to share (even though she’s been in my blog roll a long while- but it’s definitely not a book blog) is The Queen Mum. If you have delicate sensibilities, don’t- I repeat- don’t visit. She drops the f-bomb quite liberally. But if that’s not a problem for you, get ready to laugh. I have had to wipe tears from my eyes on more than one occasion from her screamingly funny posts, like this one. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.

What books and blogs have blown you away recently?? I would love to know!

The Sunday Salon

Sunday has arrived!! Here’s hoping that you all have a relaxing day.

My week has been crazy and I haven’t been able to do much reading.  Oh, I have tried to wind down with a book at bedtime, but I find myself nodding off after 10 pages or so.  I did get a solid hour of reading in at my daughter’s gymnastics practice this week, but beyond that I haven’t had a good chunk of time to sit with a book and get lost in it.  Maybe today.

 I’m posting a couple pics from our vacation to Pennsylvania.  My kids have been bored and grumpy this week since we got back to our routine because they haven’t had a gaggle of kids around to traipse through the woods with, a thunderstorm to get caught in, or a lake to jump in.  My youngest daughter’s sad comment this week was, “There’s too much cement in California, Mom.”  She has a point.  

The books keep arriving at the door even if I haven’t had much time to read them.  This was my haul this week from UPS, FedEx, and the mailman:  

The Heartbreak Diet: A Story of Family, Fidelity, and Starting Over by Thorina Rose from Chronicle Books.  It’s a hardcover graphic novel (my first) that I requested from an ad in Shelf Awareness back in May.  I wanted to see what all the fuss was about with graphic novels.  I’ll let you know.

Netochka Nezvanova by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, a Penguin Classic that I requested months ago. This is a slim volume and apparently I have 6 weeks to read it or the Book Police will be after me.

Inglorious by Joanna Kavenna from Picador and LibraryThing’s early reviewers program.  This one came out a year ago but was just recently released in paperback.

The Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer from Harper Perennial and Every Day I Write the Book Blog.  This is the July online book club selection over at EDIWTB.

Queen of the Road by Doreen Orion- two copies- one from the author and one from the publisher, Broadway Books- so I will be giving one away!  This book is everywhere right now-and since one of my favorite people loved it, I am really excited to read it!  Watch for the giveaway post later today or tomorrow.

The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner from Ballantine Books and Dorothy Thompson at Pump Up Your Book Promotion.  I will be doing a virtual book tour stop for this one in August.

The Safety of Secrets by DeLaune Michel from Over the River Publications- the 2nd copy I’ve received from them, so I’ll be giving it away!  Look for the giveaway post Tuesday.  We also may have a Q & A from the author if I could just finish the book and get a few questions to her!  That is my goal for today.

And finally- an unbound galley of The Forbidden Daughter by Shobhan Bantwal from the author (coming out in August) that arrived in a ripped and bent thin white envelope.  Apparently they ran out of ARCs but even though the envelope was a mess, the galley is in good shape (one munched corner, but beyond that it’s ok).  I don’t recall requesting this, but I guess I did.  I’ve never received a book this way and it will be a challenge to read it like this, but hopefully it will be worth it!

I just noticed that the two covers I added to this post show only half of the woman’s face.  Huh.  Weird.  I thought I was being all random with the covers but they are oddly one-eyed and similar.  Maybe the other eye is on the spine.  I’ll have to check.

Well, I guess I better go read now!!  The kids are still sleeping so I might be able to string two sentences together before being interrupted.

If you’re like me and need to find more time for reading, check out these tips from Books on the Nightstand.  Have a great week!  ~Lisa

Kandide and The Secret of the Mists

Our book club has taken an odd turn–

This fall we will read Kandide and the Secret of the Mists, a book meant for 9-12 year old readers (let’s just say we are all a wee bit older than that).  It’s all faeries and magical worlds and enchanting adventure, not my usual interests!  But one of our members is a friend of Diane Zimmerman, the author, and she will be attending our meeting in person.  That’s a rare opportunity and one we did not want to pass up.  Ms. Zimmerman is also a professional magician at the Magic Castle in LA- pretty cool! Several of us (myself included) have children that fall into the 9-12 age range, so we’re going to ask them to read the book along with us and include them in our meeting.

The trailer is quite good!  Check it out:

 

 

Click HERE for a Promo Code to save 25% on Kandide!

Has your book club ever read something completely different like this?  If so, how did it go?  

Authors- They’re Just Like US! #1

One of the glossy magazines dedicated to celebrities (Us Weekly, I believe) has a regular feature showing famous people doing everyday things.  I like seeing rockstars picking up their drycleaning or box office sweethearts biting their nails.  I’m just a voyeur that way.  It’s interesting to see that in some ways they’re ordinary people, just like us. 

In writing this blog I’ve been able to correspond with authors, MY celebrities- MY rockstars, and I began to wonder about them.  Do they like the same books I like?  What do they recommend to their friends?  I don’t have the resources to hire the paparazzi to follow them around and peek into their bedrooms to see what’s on their nightstands, so I decided to pose the same 5 questions to a number of authors.  I got so many great responses that I’ve decided to tackle each question in a separate post.

Question #1- AUTHORS:  WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

Linda Merlino, author of Belly of the Whale:  Firehouse  by David Halberstam.

Jennie Shortridge , author of Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe: A rather odd juxtaposition of fiction and nonfiction:  The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, and Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach. 

Beth Fehlbaum, author of Courage in Patience:  When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

Megan Crane, author of Names My Sisters Call Me:  Careless in Red by Elizabeth George.  It’s the latest Lynley mystery, and now that I know George will, in fact, kill off longterm characters, I know that no one is safe! 

Jasmin Rosenberg, author of How the Other Half Hamptons:  The Divorce Party” by Laura Dave, after devouring her debut novel “London is the Best City in America”

Edward Hardy, author of Keeper and Kid:  A Voyage Long and Strange  by Tony Horwitz. 

Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Wednesday Sisters:   Dirty Words, edited by Ellen Sussman, which contains so many pieces that are funny, surprisingly sweet, and undeniably sexy.  And The Divorce Party, by Laura Dave, which is an incredibly moving story of two women sorting out how to go forward with or without the men in their lives.

Alan Cheuse, author of To Catch the Lightning:  Lost in Uttar Pradesh: New and Selected Stories  by Evan Connell, an old master, and stories by new Irish writer Claire Keegan, a real prodigy (Keegan’s book is titled Walk the Blue Fields).

Mathias Freese, author of Down to a Sunless Sea:  I’m about to begin reading Montaigne’s essays, in part, because Eric Hoffer claimed he learned about writing essays from this master. 

Joshua Henkin, author of Matrimony:  Netherland by Joseph O’Neill.  A terrific novel. 

Susan Woodring  , author of Springtime on Mars:  An Invisible Sign of My Own  by Aimee Bender (I’m on a Bender kick.)

Doreen Orion, author of Queen of the Road:  I’m currently reading a novel by Marisa De Los Santos, LOVE WALKED IN.  The last bookstore I did one of my reading/signing/royal shticks at, A Great Good Place for Books in Oakland, gives authors who do events a choice of any book in the store as a gift.  So, I asked what they particularly loved and this was it.  I started it on the plane back last night and I can see why. 

Don’t you just love knowing that Meg Clayton is reading Dirty Words, or that Doreen Orion is reading that Marisa de los Santos book you’ve been eyeing, or that Alan Cheuse is reading Walk the Blue Fields (which, by the way, has a stunning cover- I may have to get it just for that!)? 

Next time we’ll see what books authors couldn’t/didn’t finish reading, and why.  I’ve been known to abandon a book now and then, so I’m very curious to see what books authors let go of before the end.

So..what are YOU reading?  

Guest Post: The Power of Women Who Read by Jennie Shortridge

Last June our book club discussed Eating Heaven, and author Jennie Shortridge attended by speakerphone. This was the first time we’d had an author in attendance and we were really nervous. One thing I remember and laugh about now from our conversation with her is that we were so concerned about taking up too much of her time that we jumped in with our questions almost as soon as she picked up the phone, and she said something like- “Well, hold on a minute, what are you guys eating? And are you enjoying some wine?” I remember she asked to “meet” each of us and we all introduced ourselves separately. She was so warm and friendly, and funny, too! We were so impressed with her and her book.

So imagine how happy I was when we found each other in blog-land, and how delirious I became when she agreed to a guest post! Please enjoy Jennie’s thoughts on The Power of Women Who Read. Ooooo, I am feeling powerful already!

The Power of Women Who Read

by Jennie Shortridge

Because I’m a reader and a woman, I may be biased on this topic, but I’ve had the opportunity to meet many other wonderful reading women through authoring three novels and attending many, many book group gatherings to discuss them. It’s no surprise to anyone that the majority of readers and book group members are women, and it’s no surprise book publishers drool over the thought of putting out a book that is book-group worthy.

This is where our power comes in. We can read Oprah books and NY Times bestsellers, or any other books someone else tells us to; there is no shame in that. For the most part, they’re fine books, and bestsellers for a reason. Of course, there are other options. Author Josh Henkins blogged here recently and offered you a challenge: choose something for your group that half of you haven’t read. I wanted to jump up and down clapping my hands when I read that. Yes, please! There are so many wonderful books out in the world. Why read the same twelve everyone else is reading?

As an author who attends book groups, in person and on the phone, I’d like to make a little pitch for those books whose authors aren’t yet household names. We are friendly, and available! We have insider stories of the book world, and of course, how the book was conceived and written. Some of us are funny, some serious, some weird, maybe, but we all have one thing in common. We love books as much as you do, and will sit and talk with you about them as long as you’ll let us.

But here’s where the power part comes in. By choosing those books that don’t get all of the marketing money and media attention, you send a message to publishers: we love these books. We purchase these books. We support these authors. Keep publishing them, too, along with the bestsellers and sure things. Publishers will take note.

How do you find great books? Ask your friends, your sisters and co-workers what they’ve loved lately. Ask your local bookseller for something beyond the front of the store. What secret gem lies in wait back in the shelves? Look at the employee recommended lists in bookstores. Ask librarians. Ask other book groups. Ask your hairdresser. Look to older books you missed the first time around. A book does not become stale or moldy with age. It seasons, just like we do, oh women readers.

In that spirit, I have a few book suggestions that may not have crossed your radar.

Miss Alcott’s Email, by Kit Bakke. Yes, Kit is a friend here in Seattle, but I pick her book because it’s smart, wry, and delightfully subversive! Kit has the audacity to imagine that she finds a way to email back and forth with Louisa May Alcott, and in her wonderful prose, they discuss social movements, personal connections, writing and famous writers, and so much more.

Church of the Dog, by Kaya McLaren. Highly recommended by friends, I’m about to embark on this novel myself. For now, I’ll just tell you what a famous author says about it: “Church of the Dog is a radiant novel that honors the broken among us, tenderly healing with its love, humor, and understanding. Kaya McLaren is a deeply wonderful writer. From the opening scene of Mara in her grandmother’s garden, through the wrenching finale on the ranch, I was stunned by this book. It’s a classic on the spirituality of everyday life…”—Luanne Rice, New York Times bestselling author

Devils in the Sugar Shop, by Timothy Schaffert. LOADS of sexy fun mixed with utter poignancy as a group of offbeat Omaha women gather for a sex-toy party, ending up with more than they bargained for. Not for the prudish, as you may have guessed. I also love both of Timothy’s other books: The Singing and Dancing Daughters of God (I even blurbed it) and The Phantom Limbs of the Rollow Sisters.

Firmin: Adventures of a Metropolitan Low-Life, by Sam Savage. This little book is the Ratatouille of the book world! It’s no cartoon, however, but the wonderful adventures and misadventures of a rat and his family inhabiting a Boston bookstore in the 1960s. Quirky, yes! Fun, yes! You’ll love it. I promise.

Chez Moi, by Agnes Desarthe and Adriana Hunter. French author Desarthe tells the story of Myriam, a middle-aged wife and mother who, with no prior experience, opens a restaurant in Paris. With few resources, she sleeps in the dining room and bathes in the kitchen sink, struggling to come to terms with her painful past. Her delectable cuisine begins to bring in customers and Myriam finds that she may get a second chance at life and love. Chez Moi is a charming story that will appeal to those who love Chocolat and Like Water for Chocolate.

-In that vein, Home Cooking: A Writer’s Life in the Kitchen, by the late, great Laurie Colwin. If you’ve somehow missed Laurie’s books, they’re all wonderful.

-And of course, I’d be delighted if you chose one of my novels. You can read more about them at www.jennieshortridge.com.

I could go on all day. Claim your power, oh reading women! Make your own choices about what you read, and help broaden the scope of wonderful reading out there in the world, not just for you and your group, but for the community of readers whose decisions you impact here.

Jennie Shortridge is a three-time bestselling novelist. Her most recent book is Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe, and her second novel, Eating Heaven, has become a favorite book club pick for hundreds of groups, even one in Taiwan! Learn more about Jennie and her books HERE.

Guest Post: The Wednesday Sisters Book Group by Meg Waite Clayton

The Wednesday Sisters Book Group

by Meg Waite Clayton

My friend Camilla Olson has this to say about our Wednesday Sisters Book Group: “I love that our book club parties together in the context of the neighborhood. It seems in California that things are either too spread out or too close, and neighbors become invisible. At first I was really intimidated by the club. After all, our first book after I joined was Madame Bovary!” And fellow voracious reader—and writer!—Rayme Adzema also loves the way the “geographical boundary” of the club strengthens the neighborhood.

When we first gathered almost five years ago now, though, we were not yet The Wednesday Sisters. Most of us did not know each other well—if at all. Relatively new to the neighborhood myself, I’d practically squealed when I was invited to join, but I remember feeling awkward walking to that first meeting. Would anyone I knew be there? Would I be able to call to mind the names of the few folks I had met? Why did I ever imagine this would be fun? I wasn’t even all that wild about the book!

It’s hard to believe now that I ever doubted anything about the Wednesday Sisters. I think the murky old ice shattered at our third meeting, with Anne Tyler’s The Amateur Marriage—by the end of which I was laughing so hard I was literally shedding tears at the stories of my fellow readers’ marriages.

Not that our husbands are anything to laugh at!

Okay, maybe they are. But then we ourselves are something to laugh at, too, which is all part of the fun, and part of the learning experience that goes on when we gather—although we don’t laugh at each other unless the subject of the laughter is laughing first; when I accidentally wore two different shoes to a meeting (hey! they were both black!) everyone kept their chuckles to themselves.

With House of Mirth, On Beauty, and The Senator’s Wife, we talked about women’s choices and self-image, sharing our own histories, our own dreams. When we read Reading Lolita in Tehran, we donned the bhurka Camilla brought, a little firsthand experience of that life so different from ours. For Madame Bovary, we gobbled Marie’s crepes. For Hunting and Gathering, we drank a lovely French wine and, yes, I think we did eat the entire tart and most of the cheese.

 The one thing that has been constant through all the books we’ve read—and I don’t think there has been a single book on which we’ve had a unanimous opinion—is that, as Jennifer said at a Memorial Day barbecue, “We do talk about the book!” Writing style and plot, simile, metaphor, point of view, and theme are certainly words in our vocabularies, and no meeting ends without reference to other books.

Actually, now that I think about it, there is another thing that has been constant: We root for each other. Whether it is attending Leslie Berlin’s first reading for her wonderful The Man Behind the Microchip, or applauding Rayme’s success in the Palo Alto Weekly short story competition, Adrienne’s photography, Camilla’s acceptance to her fashion program or Diana’s to Stanford’s Genetic Counseling  graduate school, we cheer each other on. The group has risen to support me again and again: reading my first novel; practically leaping at the name “The Wednesday Sisters”—the title of my not-yet-sold-at-the-time second novel; and now hosting the launch party for The Wednesday Sisters, which Random House/Ballantine is publishing next week.

There’s the wine, too. We always do serve wine. So I suppose there are three constants about us.

Or four: the laughter. Of course.

Five: … Oh, never mind! For a group of women linked initially only by geography, we turn out to be a pretty constant group of wonderfully-connected readers and friends.

Meg’s novel The Wednesday Sisters will be available on June 17th!  Her website is jammed with information for would-be writers, readers, and fellow book clubbers.  You can find it HERE.

You can read Meg’s Bio HERE.  To read an excerpt of The Wednesday Sisters, click HERE.  For a rave review from Trish at Hey, Lady! click HERE.

Meg, it was such a treat to hear about your book group.  Thanks for guest posting!