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Posts Tagged ‘book clubs’

Giveaway Opportunity: THE AVIATOR’S WIFE by Melanie Benjamin

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Benjamin_Aviator's Wife Don’t let 2013 slip away without reading Melanie Benjamin’s bestselling novel, The Aviator’s Wife. In the spirit of Loving Frank and The Paris Wife, acclaimed novelist Melanie Benjamin pulls back the curtain on the marriage of one of America’s most extraordinary couples: Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

“The history is exhilarating. . . . The Aviator’s Wife soars. . . . Anne Morrow Lindbergh narrates the story of the Lindberghs’ troubled marriage in all its triumph and tragedy.”—USA Today

“Fictional biography at its finest.”—Booklist (starred review)

Enter below for your chance to win! And join the conversation online with Melanie Benjamin via Facebook and Twitter.

Giveaway Opportunity: A NANTUCKET CHRISTMAS by Nancy Thayer

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

Thayer_Nantucket Christmas The holidays are right around the corner, so now is the perfect time of year to curl up with a favorite holiday book (or author)! This year, we are excited to read New York Times bestselling author Nancy Thayer’s A Nantucket Christmas. We have some copies to share, so enter below for your chance to win!

Holidays on this Massachusetts island are nothing short of magical, and the season’s wonderful traditions are much loved by Nicole Somerset, new to Nantucket and recently married to a handsome former attorney. Their home is already full of enticing scents of pine, baking spices, and homemade pie.

But the warm, festive mood is soon tempered by Nicole’s chilly stepdaughter, Kennedy, who arrives without a hint of holiday spirit. Determined to keep her stepmother at arm’s length—or, better yet, out of the picture altogether—Kennedy schemes to sabotage Nicole’s holiday preparations. Nicole, however, is not about to let anyone or anything tarnish her first Christmas with her new husband.

Nancy Thayer’s wonderful tale reminds us that this is the season of miracles. Before the gifts are unwrapped, surprise visitors appear, and holiday joy comes to all, both naughty and nice.

An Essay from Melanie Benjamin, author of THE AVIATOR’S WIFE

Monday, December 9th, 2013

Benjamin_Aviator's Wife In Melanie Benjamin’s Random House Reader’s Circle essay, she discusses what makes a book a “book club” book, Anne Lindbergh, and what drew her to writing about this subject in The Aviator’s Wife. We have an excerpt below for you to enjoy!

THE LAST TO KNOW An Essay by Melanie Benjamin

What makes a book a “ book-club” book? Why are some books read and immediately passed around, so eager are readers to discuss them with someone? What kind of topic or writing style or time period provokes this kind of response more than others?

Those are million-dollar questions, of course. No one knows the real answer; there ’s no formula that can be passed along from author to author. We write what we have to, never imagining what the true response will be to the finished product. And occasionally, we get lucky.
“This is a great book-club book!” “I can’t wait to discuss it at our next meeting!” “I just had to tell all the women in my life to read it!”: These have been some of the heartfelt responses to The Aviator’s Wife, and I confess that every time I hear something like this, I giggle. And then scratch my head, trying to figure out just what I did in this book, what idea or emotion or overriding theme within the pages spoke to so many readers. And I think I’ve come up with a couple of answers.

First of all, Anne. Or Anne’s journey, I think it’s safe to call it. Tragic, brave, wry, sensitive, strong, passive, loyal (to a fault), duplicitous…all these adjectives have been used to describe her. And they all fit, at different times in her story; that ’s one reason why I was drawn to writing about Anne Morrow Lindbergh. There is such a duality to her! One minute she ’s a typical bride of her generation, docile, passive, allowing her husband to speak for her. The next, she’s flying through the air on her own, setting records, achieving firsts. One minute she’s frustratingly loyal to a man who doesn’t deserve it; the next she ’s embarking on a passionate affair. She ’s a tragic figure, suffering through her child ’s death; she ’s a controversial one, championing Hitler prior to World War II. We want to understand her, and we do, at times. Then we don’t. She’s not a one-size-fits-all heroine, not at all, and so we continue to examine her, parse her actions, better understand the time in which she lived, try to walk a mile in her shoes from a different era. Some of us can, others cannot. And so we continue to discuss her.

Then, of course, there is Charles. I’m honestly perplexed when readers tell me what a jerk he was in my book, how my bias against him is so obvious. Well, the truth is, I kind of liked him while I was writing him. Or perhaps the better way to put it is that I had a lot of sympathy for him—at times. I never stopped admiring what he had accomplished so young; I never stopped trying to understand how becoming the world ’s hero at the age of twenty-five—forever living your life pursued and hounded, always being asked to give more, do more, be more—might change a person. I never stopped remembering how his failure to bring his child home to Anne had to have haunted him the rest of his life.
I also never stopped being disappointed by him, however. Frustrated, as well. Just as Anne must have been. So Charles, too, provokes much discussion, particularly among younger women. Women born long after the feminist movement, who take it for granted that they’d never put up with a man like him, who would never stay loyal to him as Anne did. Women who don’t remember that they’ve come a long way, baby.

Then there is the history; there is simply so much of it! So much we didn’t read in our fourth-grade American history books. I came to this suspecting that while we all “knew” the Lindberghs, it was only in bits and pieces, never completely. And from the number of readers who have told me, “I had no idea!” about different parts of Anne and Charles’s story, I now know that I was right.

You can read the rest of the essay in addition to discussion questions for your book club in the back of the trade paperback. Stay connected with Melanie Benjamin on Facebook and Twitter!

Dogs, Cats, Puddin’ – OH MY!

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Screen shot 2013-12-06 at 1.56.41 PM What do you get for the foodie in your life? The dog lover?? The cat lover?! The following three books are irresistible gift pairings for that book loving friend with a special interest.

The gift of Puddin’ is as simple as making it! Colorful mixing bowls and wooden spoons are a tasteful match when gifting this cookbook full of classic and foolproof recipes. Dive in and re-create your childhood memories!

Dog lovers of the world: unite! The New Yorker Book of Dogs is a fetching book of essays from Susan Orlean to Roald Dahl. Trust us, giving this book to a dog lover will truly delight. Paired with doggie treats and toys, this book is perfect for the any dog owner in your book club.

Last, but certainly not least, cats! Cats are the perfect reading companions! Whether you enjoy curling up with your feline friend or if you are shopping for a cat lover, couple The New Yorker Book of Cats with cat toys and you’ll surely be the cat’s meow!

Have more literary gift pairing ideas for us? Share your ideas on our Facebook page!

Give the Gift of Fiction This Year!

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

Christmas RHRC post 1December is here and Christmas is less than three weeks away. (We are scrambling to get our holiday shopping done, too.) As you and your book club near your final gathering for 2013, we’d like to share some of our favorite books and literary pairings for readers of all kinds!

If you are giving the gift of Fannie Flagg this season then we recommend a photo album. This is a fitting and timeless gift to accompany this bestselling novel’s generation-spanning storyline.

A teapot is a central symbol in Tell the Wolves I’m Home, so pairing one with the book and some holiday teas will warm up any gift (Hint: We like chai and apple cinnamon this time of year!)

And finally, we recommend bundling The Wishing Thread, an enchanting debut novel, with yarn and a pair of knitting needles. A perfect read for book lovers and knitters alike!

What other literary-themed gift ideas do you have? Share with us on Facebook and Twitter!

Reader’s Guide: A Q&A with Anna Quindlen, author of STILL LIFE WITH BREAD CRUMBS

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Quindlen_Still Life with Bread CrumbsAnna Quindlen is beloved by all readers and book clubs alike! From her “Last Word” column in Newsweek to her irresistible New York Times bestselling books such as Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake and One True Thing (to name a few!), Quindlen has truly captured the minds of of her readers.

We are so happy to share this Q&A between Anna Quindlen and Kate Medina, her editor, with you in anticipation of her upcoming novel, Still Life with Bread Crumbs.

Still Life with Bread Crumbs is your seventh novel. You write both bestselling fiction and nonfiction. How are the processes different for you, if they are? How do you decide which one to write next?

I always mean to sound purposeful when we talk about things like that, but it’s all pretty unexamined and intuitive. My last nonfiction book, the memoir Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, came to life with an off handed comment I’d made to my daughter and a piece of data I stumbled across when writing my last Newsweek column. I’d been very satisfied writing novels, and I had no intention of moving back into nonfiction. Right now I’m juggling a novel in its nascent stages and a nonfiction book, as you know, and the most obvious difference is that on the first, I eventually plunged right into the writing, and on the second I’m still doing the reporting. Sometimes the reporting is an excuse not to write; other times it is such an aid to composition because, unlike the material in the novels, it is in your notes or on tape, doesn’t have to be excavated from the sometimes hard rock of imagination.

People love to know where the inspiration for a novel comes from. Would you say something about Still Life with Bread Crumbs in this regard?

It’s not one thing. It’s never one thing. I’ve thought a lot about the nature of art, and why women’s art, particularly if it arises from domestic life, is minimized, or denigrated—why, for instance, we pay less attention to the work of Alice McDermott, a genius miniaturist whose novels reflect the quiet everyday, then we do to the more sprawling, outward-facing work of Philip Roth. Some of my thinking on that is embodied in Rebecca’s photography and public reaction to it. I’m 61 years old, and I’ve thought a lot about aging, and the stages of a woman’s life, and that’s in there, too. From a purely mechanical point of view, I try to do some essential thing in each novel that I haven’t done before. In this book it was twofold: I’ve never written a love story, and I haven’t written a book with a happy ending, and this material lent itself to both. Anna-Quindlen-Author-Photo

We’ve been working together for 25 years, on a wide range of your books—fiction, nonfiction, memoir. We are both often asked about the editorial process between writer and editor. Might you comment briefly about that process? What is the heart of it for you?

Oh, Kate, you broke me in. I cringe when I remember the first draft of Object Lessons. You said the writing was lovely, and the characters memorable, but not much happened in the course of the book. And I replied, “That’s how real life is.” You said, so sweetly, “And that’s why we call this a novel.”

The heart of the editing process is a fresh pair of sensitive and informed eyes. By the time I’m done a draft, I have no clue. Is it the best thing I’ve ever done? Is it a complete disaster? Depends on which day you ask me. But more than that, I am so close to the material that I not only can’t get out of the weeds, I can’t figure out where they are. That’s where you come in. You read and read again and then send me your long memo, which always begins “I love this book!” Then come the buts—about murky character development, fallow areas, missed opportunities. I’m not going to go into detail and thus illuminate my own dopiness, but sometimes you ask a question about something I’ve done, or failed to do, and I want to smack myself in the head, it’s so obvious.

Of course, a critical part of this process is the trust between us. You speak fluent Quindlen and you don’t try to edit me into someone else. And once our dialogue begins, I become more confident about my own work in that I know where you are right about changes, cuts, amendments, and where I disagree and will leave well enough alone.

Join the conversation with Anna on Facebook!

Giveaway Opportunity: THE BOLEYN DECEIT by Laura Andersen

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Andersen_The Boleyn Deceit “A sumptuous, vividly imagined novel of a Boleyn king’s fateful rise to power amid the treacherous glamour of the Tudor court.”—C. W. Gortner, author of The Queen’s Vow

This new novel from Laura Andersen’s series is perfect for fans of Philippa Gregory, Alison Weir, and Showtime’s The Tudors. Set in the imagined Tudor court of King Henry IX, son of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, must navigate a terrain rife with palace intrigue, impending war, and unbridled passions.

The regency period is over and William Tudor, now King Henry IX, sits alone on the throne. But England must still contend with those who doubt his legitimacy, both in faraway lands and within his own family. To diffuse tensions and appease the Catholics, William is betrothed to a young princess from France, but still he has eyes for only his childhood friend Minuette, and court tongues are wagging.

Even more scandalous—and dangerous, if discovered—is that Minuette’s heart and soul belong to Dominic, William’s best friend and trusted advisor. Minuette must walk a delicate balance between her two suitors, unable to confide in anyone, not even her friend Elizabeth, William’s sister, who must contend with her own cleaved heart. In this irresistible tale, the secrets that everyone keeps are enough to change the course of an empire.

Enter below for your chance to win! Join the conversation with Laura on Twitter.

Author Spotlight: Thanksgiving Recipe from Nancy Thayer, author of A NANTUCKET CHRISTMAS

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Thayer_Nantucket Christmas No Thanksgiving feast is complete without cranberry sauce! Nancy Thayer, author of the recent holiday favorite A Nantucket Christmas, shares her homemade cranberry sauce recipe. The recipe calls for: bourbon, cinnamon, cranberries, and sugar- all ingredients help you bring this fresh and essential item to your Thanksgiving table.

Nancy & David’s Nantucket Cranberry Sauce

1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 bag (12 oz) fresh cranberries, rinsed and dried
1 tsp bourbon
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp cinnamon

Combine granulated sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Bring contents to a boil. Add fresh cranberries and return to a boil. Reduce heat, add bourbon, and boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Remove from heat, stir in spice and zest, and allow to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until it’s time to eat. Makes approximately 2-1/4 cups.

© jessica hills photography

© jessica hills photography

Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving recipe to share? We’d love to hear about it! Share with us on our Facebook page.

Author Spotlight: Thanksgiving Memory from Melanie Benjamin, author of THE AVIATOR’S WIFE

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

Benjamin_Aviator's WifeThanksgiving is officially two weeks away and, boy, we are really looking forward to the turkey, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie! While anxiously awaiting the delicious feast in our near future, we’ve teamed up with some Random House Reader’s Circle authors so they can share their favorite Thanksgiving recipes and memories with you.

Today, Melanie Benjamin, author of The Aviator’s Wife, jumps right to our sweet tooth and shares her grandmother’s Cherry Delight recipe:

Come Thanksgiving, there is only one item that my family really cares about. We could have pizza instead of turkey; French fries instead of mashed potatoes. But we must have my grandmother’s “Cherry Delight” dessert in order for the world to feel right and happy and jolly; in order for us to feel like a family, and not just a collection of individuals brought together to eat too much.

Aviator's-Wife---GrandmaBGrandma B – that’s what we called her, but she was really Grandma Blickenstaff. My parents always say that I remind them of her, and I’m not sure how; I don’t scrub my garage floor, like she did; I don’t iron my sheets, either. She was the quintessential German hausfrau. But I suppose I do see myself in her fierce tenacity; the way she had of marching through life with quick, determined strides, always in a rush, never willing to suffer fools gladly. In fact, it’s literally the walk that we share; that’s what my parents always comment about. I simply don’t linger; I have places to go, people to see.

Grandma B died in 2001; it was an autumn I’ll never forget. In quick succession, The Twin Towers fell, my son broke his arm playing Pee Wee football, and Grandma B died after a short illness at the age of 90.

But in time, we moved on. They’re building on the site of the World Trade Center. My son’s arm healed, and he gave up football and took up the drums. And I now possess Grandma B’s index file of recipes, as well as the responsibility of bringing the Cherry Delight to every holiday gathering. The index card I use is faded; the ink pale blue, the handwriting spidery. Grandma’s list of ingredients calls for something called “Oleo,” which I had to look up. It’s an old-fashioned term for margarine.

I use butter instead. But that’s the only change I’ve made to Grandma B’s recipe. Because some things shouldn’t change. Especially if they allow your family to recognize itself, despite the inevitable changes over the years.

Melanie-BenjaminGrandma B’s Cherry Delight

Mix Together:
18 Graham crackers, crushed (or 1 ¼ cup Graham cracker crumbs)
1 stick butter, melted
¼ cup sugar
Spread in 9X9 baking pan, well-greased

Cream:
8 oz. Philadelphia cream cheese
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 egg

Spread on crust and bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven, let cool. Spread 1 can of cherry pie filling on top. Top with Cool Whip and refrigerate until chilled.

Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving recipe or memory? Share it with us on our Facebook page.

Be sure to check in with us between now and Thanksgiving for more recipes!
Next up: Laura Andersen.

Reader’s Guide: THE TRUTH ABOUT YOU by Susan Lewis

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

Lewis_The Truth About YouThe Truth About You by international bestselling author Susan Lewis is perfect for readers of Jodi Picoult, Heather Gudenkauf, and Elizabeth Flock. This novel of secrets and suspenses challenges the ties that bind—while reigniting the hope of enduring love. Here at Random House Reader’s Circle, we have the exclusive book club questions for you and your friends to enjoy!

If you’ve ready read the book, feel free to share your thoughts with us on Facebook.

Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. From the beginning of the novel, Stacy and Lainey seem to have a closer relationship than that of Lainey with her own sisters. What do you think draws them together?

2. What do you make of the connection between Peter and his dog, Sherman? What does Sherman symbolize? What do you think Sherman’s steadfast loyalty meant to Peter as his dementia worsened?

3. Tierney and Guy’s relationship was risky from the beginning. When do you think Tierney became uncomfortable with what was happening? Do you think she should have told her mother when matters worsened? What can a mother do to prepare her daughter for situations like this or protect her from them?

4. Despite Tom’s absence, Lainey refused to change her plans to go to Italy. Why? Was it a dedication to discovering the truth? A need to find somewhere to belong? Retaliation? Or something else?

5. How did Skye and Tierney’s friendship transform throughout the novel? What were the most influential moments?

6. Before Tom’s relationship with Kirsten and Julia is revealed, Max is very alienated from the Hollingsworth family, especially Lainey. Yet by the end of the book he is closer than ever. What changed?

7. Do you think that Lainey’s discovery about her father was for the best? What was your reaction when she found out? What would you have done if you were in Lainey’s position?

8. Why did Tom want his family to learn about Julia’s condition on their own? Do you think if he had told them earlier they would have responded differently to the situation?

9. As the novel progresses, similarities between Alessandra, Lainey, and Tierney start to become apparent. What are these? Does this remind you of anything in your own family?

10. Divorce is a common theme throughout the novel. What do you think the author might be saying about divorce and its effects on a family, particularly via Stacy, Skye, and Nadia?

11. There are many life–changing secrets throughout this novel, but only some are disclosed. Why do you think some remain hidden? Is secrecy ever better than honesty? If so, how should you decide which secrets are better left untold?

12. Throughout the novel, Lainey relies on words to express her emotions, while Tom instead chooses action. Is one better than the other? Would things have happened differently if Tom had been more plainspoken or Lainey less effusive with her words?

13. There were many themes throughout the novel—-secrecy, adultery, family, trust, etc. Which theme resonated most strongly with you?

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