Summer Reading Series Kick-off!

Mari from Bookworm with a View contacted me recently about organizing an online book club with her for the summer. After several emails back and forth, our Summer Reading Series plans started to come together and take shape. We’re excited with what we’ve come up with, and we hope you will join us in the next few months to share some great beach reads!

cholton929-390-beach_trip_coveBecause Mari’s site focuses on women’s lit (book reviews, news, and she also runs the Manic Mommies book club) and Books on the Brain focuses on book clubs and all things books, we thought our blogs would be the perfect combination for hosting an online book club. We’re teaming up to connect our readers, share ideas and more.

Our June selection is Beach Trip by Cathy Holton, and what better choice to throw into your beach bag this summer? E-mail me to enter the drawing for a free copy of the book (we have 20 books to give away). Put “Beach Trip” in the subject line, but please only request the book if you are interested in coming back for the discussion! Click here to read a full description of the book. Beach Trip will be in stores tomorrow, May 12th, and the Beach Trip discussion will take place here on June 16th – with the author participating ‘live’ for an hour! I will post details for the discussion about a week before along with an email reminder to those who’ve won the book.

26317027Our July book selection is All We Ever Wanted Was Everything, written by Janelle Brown. To enter the drawing, send Mari an email with the book title in the subject line. Mari will be hosting this discussion at Bookworm with a View on July 14th.  Click HERE for a full description and author interview.

Our August selection, which will include an author call in via Skype, has been finalized, and you can read all about it HERE!

flower summer seriesMore details will follow in the upcoming weeks. We know it’s a little early to be thinking about summer, but we want to get these books into the hands of readers asap so that you’ll have plenty of time to read, and so we can have a great discussion next month!

We hope you’ll read with us!

UPDATE:  THANKS for all the emails.. all the giveaway copies of Beach Trip and Everything We Ever Wanted was Everything have been claimed!   Stay tuned for an announcement about August (coming soon!) and regular updates about our June and July discussions.  I LOVE SUMMER!

Winner!

51svuaqeq5l_sl500_aa240_The winner of One True Theory of Love by

Laura Fitzgerald is …

Natalie of Book, Line, and Sinker!

Congratulations!  I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did!

Just a reminder- today is the last day to enter the contest for Hope’s Boy by Andrew Bridge!

Review and Giveaway: Hope’s Boy by Andrew Bridge

cover1“Love may not be enough to wake a child in the morning, dress him, and get him to school, then to feed him at night, bathe him, and put him to bed.  Still, can any of us imagine a childhood without it?”  from Hope’s Boy by Andrew Bridge

Hope’s Boy by Andrew Bridge is a memoir of a childhood spent in foster care.  There are approximately half a million young people in foster care in the United States.  They are removed from their homes when the court decides that they’ve been abused or neglected by their parents, or when poverty, death, illness or other circumstances beyond their control make it impossible for their biological parents to properly care for them.  Such was the case with Hope’s boy, Andy.  

When the book opens, 5 year old Andy is living in Chicago with his grandma Kate, who is struggling financially but doing the best she can.  One day her daughter Hope calls from California, insisting Kate put Andy on a plane and send him out to her.  Andy barely remembers his mom, but Kate, feeling she has no choice, says goodbye to Andy and sends him to Los Angeles.

Life with Hope is unpredictable and chaotic.  She means well and loves her boy but isn’t prepared to take care of a child.  In their two years together Andy witnesses his mother’s rape at knifepoint, is woken up at 2am to burglarize a house with his mom and her friend, and eats from dumpsters.  Hope, plagued by voices in her head that tell her they are coming to take Andy, becomes paranoid and protective, insisting Andy not go to school for fear they will ‘get him’.  They are evicted from their apartment for nonpayment of rent, but Hope refuses to leave, smashing the front window so they can enter after the locks have been changed.  They briefly live with a pastor’s family who try to help, but eventually they wear out their welcome and move to a motel.  Finally, in a heart-wrenching scene, Andy is pulled away from his mother by a social worker as police shove Hope to the ground.  

Life with Hope is hard, but life without Hope is hell.  Hope’s Boy shines a light on the harsh realities of a broken system.   Taken to MacLaren Hall, more like a prison than a juvenile facility, nothing is explained to this frightened little boy.  After several months in that horrible place he is placed with a family that offers stability and food but lacks any semblance of nurturing, encouragement, or love.  He stays with the Leonards for the remainder of his childhood, hanging onto the scraps he has from his mother (“You are my boy”) and finding solace in school.   There is no effort to reunite his family, and the abuse and neglect in his foster home goes on unchecked.  He sees Hope only a handful of times, in one hour increments under the watchful eye of his foster mother.  But then the visits stop completely for nearly a decade, leaving Andy to worry and wonder.  Andy remains ever hopeful that she will somehow come back for him.  Like a child lost in a big department store, Andy believes that if he stays put, she will find him.

bridgeAgainst staggering odds, Andy goes on to college, later graduating from Harvard Law School and becoming a Fulbright scholar, without any assistance from family of from the foster care system.  This is miraculous as the majority of foster children never graduate from high school, let alone college.  In fact, 30-50% of children aging out of foster care are homeless within 2 years.  They crowd our shelters and prisons. Without the memory of his mother’s love to hang onto, who knows what might have become of Andrew Bridge.

In an impassioned plea for reform, Bridge wonders:  

“Did Hope’s visits to the Leonards’ house have to be so hostile?  Did she have to be limited to one visit a month for an hour?  Could someone have asked her what she needed to assume more of motherhood’s responsibilities, to assure her son that she was there for him, to ease her son’s unyielding loneliness?  Was it necessary to leave her boy to think that she had just disappeared?”  from Hope’s Boy by Andrew Bridge, page 295

You can check out the author’s website for more information about the book and the foster care system.

Thanks to Molly at Hyperion for sending me this emotional memoir and for offering a copy to one of my readers.  If you’d like a chance to win a copy of Hope’s Boy, please leave a comment here by Monday, March 23rd. 

Survey Says…

images2What are book clubs reading? How often do they meet? Do they enjoy speaking with authors? These are a few of the burning questions on the minds of publishers and authors, and on the 2009 ReadingGroupGuides.com survey. Their goal is to identify trends and topics that are of interest to book groups, so they can provide resources needed to enhance book group meetings and discussions. Please note: The survey is only open to readers who are in book clubs.

But here’s the best part.. as a token of their appreciation, ReadingGroupGuides.com will award all participants (US and Canada only) with a free book from their publishing colleagues. See the full list of 28 titles here, each of which would be a wonderful choice for a book group discussion.

The survey takes less than 15 minutes to complete. 15 minutes of your time for a free book.. sounds like a pretty fair trade-off to me.

So if you’re in a book club, get moving! The survey will close on April 30th.

Interview and Giveaway: Laura Fitzgerald, author of One True Theory of Love

images-1Recently I had the opportunity to interview one of my favorite authors, the wonderful Laura Fitzgerald.  Laura is the author of the bestselling book Veil of Roses, and a new novel, One True Theory of Love (reviewed here), which just came out in February.  Even though she is really busy promoting her book and going to book signings and festivals, she took the time to give me very thorough and thoughtful answers to my questions.  Please enjoy this interview, and leave a comment if you’d like a chance to win her new book!  

BOTB:  If you had to describe your new book in one sentence, what would that be?

Laura:  One True Theory of Love is a story about the redemptive power of second chances in life and love.

51svuaqeq5l_sl500_aa240_BOTB:  You mentioned your very own book club recently read and discussed One True Theory of Love.  What was that like for you? 

Laura:  It was incredibly fun, because it was such a celebration of a big goal achieved and these are great women with whom to celebrate. It was also a great discussion of the book’s themes of second chances and the changing nature of relationships. All in all, it was a fun night of much wine, great discussion, and laughter.

It was also a bit weird, because everyone was asking me about my husband’s forearms and are they as sexy as Ahmed’s in the book…That’s been the one big difference between Veil of Roses and One True Theory of Love. With the main character in Veil of Roses being from Iran, no one suspected there was anything of me in her. But with this second book, I’m being asked that question a lot: How much of Meg is you? And, of course, there’s a lot of me in both Tami and Meg, as there is a lot of me in every character I write. I’m all over my books, hiding in plain sight. 

n225748BOTB:  I’ve read on your website that the idea for the book came from a book club meeting you attended for your first book, Veil of Roses.  Can you tell us about that?

Laura:  Well, I was quite far along in my writing of this other story that just wasn’t working out – I couldn’t get the main character to be likable, and the story itself was so different from Veil of Roses in tone and temperament that I was coming to the sad conclusion that it wasn’t the right “next book” for me. This realization was confirmed as I met with three book clubs in Wisconsin in the course of a week. 

The clear message was they like the “make you laugh, make you cry” flavor of Veil of Roses. The book I’d been working on was a straight “make you cry” type of book. Also, in each book club, members were going through huge life changes, falling in or out of love, mourning the deaths of loved ones, and just in general fighting the good, hard fights that life presents us. And it just struck me how much courage it requires to build yourself back up after life has knocked you down. We like to believe our happy ending is out there, waiting for us – that no matter how bad things are, if we just try harder, or try AGAIN, good things will happen and we’ll be happy. That’s not always how it works – but this deliberate optimism is what helps us move forward. 

I hate to sound existential, but I believe the happiness can be found in the struggle. Life is richer for going after what you want when there’s no guarantee of a positive outcome. It just is. 

BOTB:  What has been the most exciting thing that has happened to you since becoming a best selling author?  How has it changed your life? 

Laura:  I can’t and won’t downplay how nice it is to forevermore get to be referred to as “national bestselling author,” but the life-changing part of it comes down to the fact that I had a hard-to-achieve goal and I achieved it – writing a novel good enough to be published at a time when no one cared whether I did it or not. I now get to spend my days doing what I love, in a way that is perfectly suited to my skills, wants and personality. I am figuring out how to tell great stories, and after years and years of work learning my craft, I am almost at a point where I feel I’m hitting my stride with my writing. It’s exciting for me personally to feel with some confidence that the next few books are going to be a culmination of a lot of work on the backend, and that the best is yet to be. 

To repeat: Life is richer for going after what you want when there’s no guarantee of a positive outcome. I feel like I’m walking on a tightrope and to stay on it requires every ounce of skill I have, plus some luck. It’s a position I love to be in. 

BOTB:  Do you write with a particular audience in mind, or do you just write what you like?  

Laura:  Pretty much all my stories center around women who have to summon the courage to do something that is hard for them to do in order to get their shot at happiness — it’s a proactive approach to life and ultimately very affirming. We save ourselves, and we find ourselves in the broken pieces. I firmly believe that. My audience is any woman who needs that message. 

BOTB:  What is the writing process like for you?  Do you treat it like a job- writing for a certain number of hours a day- or do you wait until inspiration strikes?  How do you manage to get anything done with two young kids at home? 

Laura:  Writing is my job, absolutely. I have an office that I go to Monday through Friday while my kids are at school. I’m at this phase in my life where I’d spend twice as much time on my writing if I could – seven days a week, probably, but I’m acutely aware that my kids won’t be this age forever. My top value at the moment is maintaining balance and it’s a constant struggle. So I leave my writing at the office and spend the rest of the time with my kids. And husband. And friends. (And on facebook.) 

BOTB:  Can you tell us about your workspace?  Do you have interesting things on the walls or on your desk to spark creativity?  

Laura:  I rent an office a few miles from my house, and it’s mine, baby – all mine. No phone, no internet connection, no husband, no kids. I don’t like clutter, so I keep my desk clear, with only a great view of the Catalina Mountains in front of me. I’ve got Ethan Allen furniture – desk, reading chair and bookshelves. I have three prints on my walls – two simple and artistic photographs, one of a book with its pages spread open and one of a cup of coffee shot from above (I love both coffee and books). I also have a print of Mark Twain with one of his quotes: I find it usually takes me three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech. This has significance to me because I believe in doing a ton of work behind the scenes to make my writing come out smooth and easy. I’m a big planner and thinker and having my office – which I think of as my “pretty little prison cell” allows me the space and time to do both. And then to write, of course. 

BOTB:  You mentioned that you’re writing a sequel to Veil of Roses.  I’m so excited about that!  What will it be called, and when can we expect to see it in stores?  

Laura:  I’m working very hard to make this sequel even better than the first book. In addition to learning what happens after Tami and Ike’s wedding, I’m delving into the lives of two other characters from Veil of Roses – Tami’s mother, and Rose. 

As yet, it hasn’t been titled. I’m calling it GONE TO PICK FLOWERS, but that’ll likely change. It should be in stores by next summer (2010).

BOTB:  Laura, THANK YOU for your time and generosity!!  I loved your book and am so thrilled to be able to offer a copy of it to one lucky reader!

If you’d like a chance to win a copy of Laura’s new book, One True Theory of Love, leave a comment here by Tuesday, March 17th.

Winner of Things I Want My Daughters to Know

9780061122194We’ve come to the end.. this is the LAST winner announcement from my 100K Celebration and I must say, this was fun.  I’ll have to do it again at the next 100K mark.  It IS better to give than to receive! The winners are all “Yay!” and “Woo Hoo!” and “Yippee, packages!”  

The final giveaway is from HarperCollins for the book Things I Want My Daughters To Know by Elizabeth Noble.  I asked entrants to tell me something they’d like their own daughter to know, and the answers were so good!  And deep!  I thought I’d try to pick the best, but no, no, no.  I just can’t pick a best.  So I put the names in a bowl (actually an old tupperware thingy with a lid), shook ’em up, and pulled out:

Erika Lynn of Kiss My Book!

And, thankfully, she wrote something really cool, which I’ll share with you here:

“I would want them to know that getting your heart broken is ok. it shows you are capable of strong emotions and it means you will begin to heal and be ready for the next great love.”

Great advice for daughters, or anyone!  

Thanks to everyone who entered all my contests and helped me celebrate my blogging milestone of 100,000 hits.  I’m so grateful to everyone who reads my blog, and I’ve really enjoyed showing my appreciation in this way.  You guys rock!!


Winner of The Rose of Sebastopol

roseofsebastopol_finalThe winner of the Penguin giveaway for the book with the lovely cover,  The Rose of Sebastopol by Katherine McMahon, is…..

 

Carrie K. from Books and Movies!

Congratulations, Carrie!  And thanks to all who entered the contest!

Winner of Sarah’s Key and Bookcharming.com Bookmarks!

9780312370848Yikes, I’m getting behind with picking winners for my 100K Giveaway.   Darn kids are keeping me busy!

The winner of Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay, my book club’s March selection, and the gorgeous Bookcharming.com bookmarks from Sheri of A Novel Menagerie, is

Raych at Books I Done Read!

 

Raych, I have your address and will get the goodies out to you this week!

And just for fun, here’s a picture of one of my wild girls (left) and one of Sheri’s twins (right).  A mini Lisa and a mini Sheri!  They had a sleepover last weekend so I snapped them waiting for their OJ and cinnamon rolls in matching robes and bed head!  Aren’t they cute?  They stayed up giggling until about 2 am.

img_2220

Matrimony Winner announced!

cover150x229For the Matrimony Giveaway, I asked entrants to finish the sentence “Love is..”  Thanks to all 45 entrants who left some really beautiful mushy gushy thoughts!  I couldn’t pick a winner (they were all so nice!) so I asked Josh, the author of Matrimony, to do it.

Josh wrote:  “Lisa has asked me to pick the winner, so since this is Valentine’s Day week, after all, I let my wife pick it–I told her to choose a random number–so all flowers and notes of gratitude go to her. And the winner is: Rebecca of Lost in Books! Congratulations, Rebecca (let me know your snail mail address), and thanks to all of you for entering. And I hope a lot of you will get in touch about my talking to your book group. Have a great weekend.”

Here is Rebecca’s winning entry.  Can you tell she’s a poet?

 

I would love to read Matrimony!

Love is…give and take.
Love is…never saying “You owe me.”
Love is…for better or for worse.
Love is…accepting the person as they are.
Love is…sharing the laughter and the tears.
Love is…give and take.

 

Congrats, Rebecca!  You have a lovely way with words!

Winners of the Random House Giveaway!

This giveaway was tricky to pick winners for because I gave extra chances for blogging about it and then some people wanted certain books and others didn’t care what they got and others were greeeeedy and wanted everything!!  I hope the winners all won what they were hoping to win!  So here we go:


51luakxjkrl_sl500_aa240_Winners of Welcome to the Departure Lounge:

1.  Julie from Booking Mama

2.  Ladytink534 from The Movieholic and Bibliophile Blog

3.  Gentle Reader at Shelf Life 

 

41mgmxucf6l_sl500_aa240_Winners of American Wife:

1.  Christina from  Jackets and Covers 

2.   Kristi from Books and Needlepoint 

3.   Valorie at Morbid Romantic 

 

3Winners of Gardens of Water:

1.  Drey  from Drey’s Library 

2.  Sweet Diva 

3.  Melissa at Shhh I’m Reading 

 

And the Grand Prize Winners of all 3 Random House titles are:

1.   Melanie from The Scrapping Librarian 

2.  Care from Care’s Online Book Club 

CONGRATULATIONS!!  

And thanks to everyone who entered the contest!