Dead End Gene Pool-Readers!


We had a great response for the Dead End Gene Pool Spring Reading Series!

All 20 copies were claimed quickly, and the following readers will be receiving their copies of the book very soon (maybe you’ve already received them??).

1.  Me!

2.  Kathy from Boarding in My Forties

3.  Nancy from Bookfoolery and Babble

4.  Ash from English Major Junkfood

5.  Susan from Suko’s Notebook

6.  Kristi from Peetswea

7.  A. Rock-Contreras

8.  S. Walling

9.  D. Johnson

10.  Kathy from Bermuda Onion

11.  Heather from Raging Bibliomania

12.  Jennifer from Mrs. Q: Book Addict

13.  R. Newberg

14.  J. Shoppell

15.  Bellezza from Dolce Bellezza

16.  Care from Care’s Online Book Club

17.  Lisa from Lit and Life

18.  P. Berger

19.  R. Berven

20.  V. Lancaster

What a great group!  Can’t wait to discuss it with all of you on May 18th!  I’ll let everyone know the exact details for the discussion with the author as it gets closer.

And I’m so sorry if you were interested in reading with us and missed out this time.  The book was published on April 1st, so it can be found in stores and requested from libraries.   If you can get your hands on a copy, please join us!


Keeping the Feast discussion with author Paula Butturini

Hello, readers!

Tonight we are privileged to welcome Paula Butturini, author of Keeping the Feast, to our Winter Reading Series discussion.  She will be here “live” participating in our discussion and answering questions at 5 pm PST (8 pm EST) in the comments section of this post.

The conversation got going in this post, where I posed some discussion questions for everyone and asked for questions for Paula.

I’ve been gathering your questions for Paula and of course would welcome more.  Here’s what we have so far.

My questions:

How does John feel about Keeping the Feast?  How might the book have been different if he’d been the one to write the memoir?

Your beating was so brutal.  At what point did you feel safe and confident enough to work again?

I remember reading that you kept a journal (I can’t find it in the book, but I remember reading that!)  Did you know then that you might write a book like this?  How were you journals used in writing the book- did you re-read them, use whole sections, or just refer back to them as necessary?  Did John also keep a journal?

The bullet that ripped through John changed your lives so dramatically.  Journalists put themselves in harms way in the most dangerous places in the world, getting as close to the action as possible in order to share it with the masses.  Why do they risk their lives that way?  At what point is personal safety more important than the public’s need to know?

From Jill at Fizzy Thoughts:

I was surprised by their decision to buy a house in France…I would’ve expected a return to Italy. I was wondering if she’d be willing to speak a little bit about what factors influenced their decision to buy a house in France, and if Italy was even a consideration.

Also.. has living in France changed the way she cooks?

When I saw Thrity Umrigar at FoB last year she mentioned that journalism gave her good work ethics for writing her novels…that writer’s block wasn’t an issue, as she considered it her job to sit down and write every day (I’m totally paraphrasing here). Did Paula find it difficult to transition from journalism to writing a book? Did she build on her experiences as a journalist, or was it a completely different writing experience?

From Kathy at Bermuda Onion:

I loved all the food descriptions and kept hoping for recipes, so I’m wondering if Paula has considered writing a cookbook.

From Susan at Suko’s Notebook:

The only additional question I might add is if there will be a sequel at some point in time, or even a book exclusively about food–not necessarily a cookbook, but something very food-related?  The author writes so beautifully about food.

From Dar at Peeking Between the Pages:

1.  I was amazed by your perseverance and patience in the face of John’s depression especially having grown up with it.  How difficult was that for you and how were you able to put aside your feelings and anger to be there for him like that? I think it takes a special kind of person to do that.

2.  How is your relationship with your daughter given how yours was with your mom?  It’s great how honest you are with her regarding John’s depression – she will grow up understanding depression hopefully instead of resenting it.

3. I really loved how food was something that always brought comfort whether shopping for it or preparing it.  I think it’s important to find that something that will bring you through the tough times.  I thank you as well for sharing your story with us about depression because too often it’s a hidden disease and it shouldn’t be.

And one from “anonymous” – ok, it’s me..

My husband had a nervous breakdown 4 years ago and suffered a scary bout of depression and anxiety after his business of 11 years failed.  I worry about a relapse whenever anything goes wrong and nervously watch for signs of it.  So, my question is, has John ever had a relapse?  Do you live in fear that he might?

Come by tonight at 5 pm PST (8 pm EST) to say hi to Paula and see how she answers our questions!  Hope to see you then!

Keeping the Feast – Readers!


We had a great response for the Keeping the Feast Winter Reading Series!

All 20 copies have been claimed and the following readers will be receiving their copies of the book very soon.

1.  Mari from Bookworm with a View

2.  Nicole from Linus’s Blanket

3.  Kathy from Bermuda Onion

4.  Lisa from Lit and Life

5.  Megan from Po(sey) Sessions

6.  Kristina from The Cajun Book Lady

7.  Robin from My Two Blessings

8. Emily Smith

9. Eleanor Alston

10.  Eileen Kunstman

11.  Jennifer from Mrs. Q: Book Addict, Book Lover, Avid Reader

12.  Robbie Alba- Estrada

13.  Susan from Suko’s Notebook

14.  Jane Shoppell

15.  Heather from Raging Bibliomania

16.  Janel from Janel’s Jumbles

17.  Anne Paluck

18.  Jill from Fizzy Thoughts

19.  Sharon Walling

20.  Debbie from Reader Buzz

What a great group!  Can’t wait to discuss it with all of you in February!  I’ll let everyone know the specific time and date for the discussion with the author as it gets closer.

And I’m so sorry if you were interested in reading with us and missed out this time.. we’ll be doing this again in the future, so stay tuned!

Review: Beach Trip by Cathy Holton

imageDB.cgiYou might think Beach Trip by Cathy Holton would be a light, fun, summertime romp, based on the cover and the description, but it really isn’t that.  I’d call it women’s fiction, which to me means it’s a bit more serious than chick lit, and a lot less fluffy than what I think of as a beach read. 

The story is about Lola, Mel, Sara, and Annie, college roommates and close friends who get together some 20 years later, in their 40’s, for a week at the beach.  Life has taken them in completely different directions since their college years, but they still have a bond. 

Alternating between the past and present, we get to know the women as they were and are.  Lola- rich, beautiful, married to the very controlling Briggs, is sweet but childlike- she seemed medicated and in her own little world during the week at the beach.  Mel, the wild one, is a twice-divorced writer and a breast cancer survivor who gets the women talking over margaronas.  Sara is an attorney whose marriage is suffering under the strain of a difficult medical diagnosis for one of her children.  Annie is an empty nester and uptight clean freak with secrets of her own.  I related most to Sara, a former career woman with a long marriage and a couple of kids, whose life isn’t perfect, but I found Mel to be the most interesting of the four.

The women don’t connect immediately at the beach- they definitely have their guard up- and it takes almost the entire trip before they have any meaningful conversation with each other.  I doubt they would have been friends without their shared history- they are friends because they’ve known each other forever.  But as the week wears on and the secrets start coming out, their friendship grows and changes to allow for the mature people they’ve become.  

So much of the first 3/4ths of the book is made up of the women’s inner dialogue- being around their old friends brings on a flood of memories- so much so that I kept thinking, are they ever going to really talk to each other?  They are all so self involved!  But then, finally, they do talk and share their lives with each other.  That’s when the book starts to get really good. 

I like when a book can surprise me, and there are a couple of big twists in Beach Trip.  The ending was great- it totally made the book for me!  One twist was obvious to me from the beginning (I’m not sure I’d even call it a twist, but then in our Summer Reading Series discussion, several people said that their favorite part was when it was revealed, so I guess it was a twist).  The end, though, really took me by surprise.  If you’ve read the book, don’t give it away!  It’s a great ending. 

I’d recommend Beach Trip to anyone who likes women’s fiction.  For more thoughts on Beach Trip, follow Cathy Holton’s TLC Book Tour.

Teaser Tuesdays

tuesday-t11Miz B and Teaser Tuesdays asks you to: Grab your current read. Let the book fall open to a random page. Share with us two (2) sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12. You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!


imagedbcgi2My teaser comes from a book I picked up over the weekend at the Festival of Books, The Story of a Marriage by Andrew Sean Greer.  This book was one of the first picks for the new Picador Book Club on Twitter.  I love the concept of a book club all done in Tweets!   Picador is announcing a new book today for the club, so go check it out!

This teaser is from page 60:

“How hollow, to have no secrets left; you shake yourself and nothing rattles.  You’re boneless as an anemone.”

What are you reading this week?

Live Online Chat with Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants

My book club read Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen in 2007 (in my -pre blogging days), and it was one of those books that I told everyone about- friends, neighbors, people in line at the grocery store.  I could not shut up about this book.  It was so visual for me- like a whole little world living in the pages- and I wanted everyone to know about it.  I still think about Jacob and Marlena and Rosie!  

Through my book club we’ve had the pleasure of talking with authors, and while each one is different, it is always an enlightening experience.  I’ve never failed to walk away from a chat without having a greater appreciation for the book we’ve read- even if it was a book I didn’t like.  And if it’s a book I loved, well, after a chat with the author, I love it that much more. is sponsoring a live online chat tomorrow with Sara Gruen about her book, Water for Elephants.  If you’ve never had the opportunity to chat with an author, this is your chance.  Here’s the 411:

Details for the Free Live Online Chat with Sara Gruen on

WHAT:     Live online chat with Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants
WHEN:     Wednesday, October 22, 8:00pm – 9:00pm ET
WHERE:    The Gather Books Essential 

WHY:        Gather, the social network with substance for the 30+ set, is hosting a live chat with the author of New York Times bestseller Water for Elephants. Sara Gruen will be answering questions submitted to the site and members are encouraged to ask Sara anything about her inspirational books or her career. Gather is the leading social network for adults, a site where members come to discuss what matters most to them; books, politics, parenting, news and other issues.

COST:     Free, thanks to Gather!

In Praise of Book Clubs, Volume 21

In this 21st installment of In Praise of Book Clubs, we hear from Melanie over at lit*chick, where she writes about books, naturally, but also about life with her 3 boys. Three must be her number- here she writes about her 3 different book clubs!

Best Discussion - Group 1

Best Discussion - Group 1

I am afraid I suffer from a bit of reading schizophrenia or multiple reading group personality disorder. I enjoy the pleasures of being a participating member of a book club, an honorary member of another, and running an online book club. Each of these variations satisfies different parts of my book nerd world.

My “in real life” book club has me finishing books I never would have chosen. And I get to hang out with women of all ages, cultures and experiences. Not everyone here is a voracious reader, in fact most are not. But face-to-face discussion and engaging on issues or topics that get past the “Hi, how are you? I’m fine” is good exercise for my introvert self. You learn the most about other people and yourself when you have your opinions challenged and share personal experiences, sometimes painful. I highly recommend it. Not to mention the opportunity for adult conversation, a skill in which I lack practice.
Up Next for Group 2

Up Next for Group 2

The honorary membership serves my non committal/rebellious side. I get their book list, can follow along, and pop in when I can. I found that having to read a book can sometimes cause me to desire anything but, surely I’m not alone here. They manage to welcome me without judgement, whenever my schedule allows. And this book club has completely different selections than the other that run more to my taste. It should, my cousin started it so there is a family connection too. But what can I say, I like being included.

Coming Up for Group 3

Coming Up for Group 3

Finally, the online book club, feeds my desire for control. I choose the books, and the questions, and steer the discussion. There is also flexibility here – while I have monthly choices, I can also post questions for books whenever I feel like it. I don’t have to wait for my turn to present selections or even wait until next month. The internet has been a wonderful vehicle for me to spill all the book stuff I’ve had bottled up. I have met lovely people and for some reason, they choose to return again and again to talk books with me. The online book club speaks to the part in me that says: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” (C.S. Lewis) That and the cool factor of having friends spread all over the world who read.

As an avid reader, there are so many options for connecting with other people who love books. Why not try one, or three?
Blogger Bio: Melanie is a suburban mom of 3 boys. Before she started blogging about books, she had other hobbies like scrapbooking and baking. Now she just reads and moves piles of books around to give the impression that she’s cleaning.
***Would you like to share about your book club here at Books on the Brain? If so, leave a comment and I will get in touch with you about a guest post!

For previous volumes of In Praise of Book Clubs, click HERE

For more info on starting your own book club, click HERE

For fun ways to make your book club better, click HERE

Guest Post: In Praise of Book Clubs, Vol. 7

In this installment of In Praise of Book Clubs, we hear from Karen of Planet Books fame.  Karen is an American living in Okinawa, Japan.  Here she writes about her attempts at a real life book club, and why she resorted to the online variety.   

I started Planet Books in October of 2007 as a way to connect with other readers from all over the planet (hence the name).  At the time I also had a “real-life” book club I had named Lit & The Island.  I started this group by inviting girlfriends that I had gotten to know over the previous few months.  Some of them knew each other but for the most part this was their first meeting.  There were never more than ten of us in the group which worked out since only a few would attend the monthly book discussion and dinner out at a restaurant.  This way we always had at least four people attend the meeting each month.  I really enjoyed listening (I wasn’t big on discussion participation at the time) to what each lady took from the book and if the ideas were similar to my own or completely new and different.     

My favorite meetings were when we would vote for the upcoming books.  We selected three to four months of books at a time because living in Japan made it difficult to just go to the store and get our books (the PX & BX selections suck for the most part).  Lining up our reading selections for the next few months made it easier to just place an order from your favorite book store’s web site and have them at your fingertips after waiting a week to two weeks for their arrival.  Because of this the book nominations were endless.  I tended to go a little overboard and always nominated at least nine or ten books each time.  I liked the opportunity to learn about new books from everyone’s nominations.  We would go around the table and each person had the opportunity to sell us on their books.  Then we would each get a slip of paper and write down our top three or four books, depending on how many books we needed at the time.  I would tally the most popular title and so on and we would get our titles.    There of course were the occasional duds, but for the most part the books we read were enjoyable and inspired lively discussions.  After two years, schedules, kids for some, and life for all got in the way and we stopped meeting.  Therefore, Planet Books began to fulfill my need for a book club.    

Planet Books started strictly as a book blog but has now morphed into a way for me to discuss not only books but music, baking and everyday topics that catch the attention of my inner blogger.  You’ll find everything on Planet Books from what book I’m reading or which magazine is taking me away from reading books for the moment, to “Today’s Favorite Song” feature and what recipe I’ve baked this week.    

I love to receive people’s comments too.  I have enjoyed the relationships that have developed due to my participation in the blogosphere.  Bottom line, Planet Books is a fun way to put my voice out into the universe and connect with people I only know through words on the screen, be it on their own blogs or their comments on mine.  This is my fourth attempt at blogging and I’m happy to say that I have found the best place and blog format for what I want to do.  I always find excitement in how many hits Planet Books gets each day and the idea that strangers from all over might be learning about a new book, recipe or song because I wrote about it on my blog.  

Blogger Bio:  Karen is currently living with her hubby of four years and their five year old Cocker Spaniel, Rocky, in Okinawa, Japan.  She hails from the Washington D.C. Metro Area, Silver Spring, MD to be specific but has also lived in Denver, CO and Memphis, TN.  She has enjoyed living in Okinawa for the last three years and looks forward to the adventures there are to be had during her last year on the Island before returning to who-knows-where in the U.S.  If she isn’t reading, listening to music, sleeping, driving around, lunching, watching t.v., surfing the net or baking you can find (or hear) her singing in the house, her car or at Karaoke on Friday nights. 

***Would you like to share about your book club here at Books on the Brain?  If so, leave a comment and I will get in touch with you about a guest post!

For previous volumes of In Praise of Book Clubs, click HERE

For more info on starting your own book club, click HERE

For fun ways to make your book club better, click HERE

For a chance to win Springtime on Mars by Susan Woodring, click HERE and leave a comment by June 6.

Guest Post: In Praise of Book Clubs, Volume 3




In this 3rd installment of my series, In Praise of Book Clubs, Gayle from the awesome blog Every Day I Write The Book talks about the book clubs she’s been in, and why she started her own online.

I’ve been in a bunch of book clubs in my life, some more successful than others. I think back very fondly on two of them. They were each made up of 4 women (different groups of women), and we met about every 5-6 weeks at a restaurant for dinner. We’d spend about half the time just catching up, and the other half “talking about the book.” I liked the book clubs as much for the companionship as the book discussions, which were substantive and thorough. It was rare that one of us didn’t finish the book, and the process for choosing the next book was informal and without rancor.

The first book club, which survived a wedding and the birth of at least three kids, fell apart when it was just too difficult for us to find times that worked. The other three women are married to male friends of mine from college, and after a while we just sort of dissolved. No drama, no final meeting… we just faded away as a book club, though we are all still friends.

The second book club, made up of three girlfriends, also faded away sometime after I had my twin girls. We briefly revived it a year or two later, adding some new faces, but it didn’t work – at least for me. I didn’t really like the books we chose to read, and I wasn’t comfortable enough with the group to veto the picks and insert my own in their place. After this last book club incarnation, I realized why I couldn’t be in a traditional book club anymore: I need to pick the books, and I need to read them on my own time.

That may sound self-centered and a little spoiled. I agree, it is! That’s who I am, and I have come to accept it. I am a Book Tyrant.

But at least I have done something constructive with my autocratic tendencies. Almost two years ago, I launched a book blog, Everyday I Write The Book, in which I review the books I read and link to reviews of other books that look interesting to me, even if I will never get around to reading them. I love that the blog is mine, that it only features books that *I* choose. And I am continually amazed and grateful that other people like to read my blog. No one’s forcing them to subscribe or comment, right? (Well, maybe some of my readers feel obligated to stick around because they’re related to me.)

Every other month or so, I hold an online book club on the blog. So far, publishers have generously sent review copies to anyone who wanted to participate, and we’ve read some excellent books, with one more underway as I write this. The discussions have been active. I love that people can read and comment on their own schedule, and that no one feels pressure to join or finish by a particular date. Hearing new perspectives from people I don’t know is also very rewarding. Finally, I’ve been fortunate to have gotten the authors of the books to answer questions – something I never anticipated when I launched the blog. I even correspond with some of the authors I’ve featured on the blog, and they recognize me when I come to their readings. Best of all, I pick the books! All of them!

Yes, I am a Book Tyrant, but I seem to have found a venue and a readership that doesn’t mind. For those, I am very thankful.

Gayle Weiswasser

Blogger Bio: Gayle lives with her husband and two daughters in Washington, DC. She reads whenever she can find time, and started her blog in July 2006.

***Would you like to share about your book club here at Books on the Brain?  If so, leave a comment and I will get in touch with you about a guest post!

For other volumes of In Praise of Book Clubs, click HERE

For more info on starting your own book club, click HERE

For fun ways to make your book club better, click HERE

To win a copy of Matrimony by Joshua Henkin, click HERE by May 15th.  Josh would be happy to do an author chat with your book club!

To win a copy of The Next Thing On My List by Jill Smolinski, click HERE by May 15. You can contact Jill at her website about setting up an author chat.