Book Club Kit: Close Your Eyes

Close Your Eyes cover imageClose Your Eyes
by Amanda Eyre Ward
First Published: 2011
10 Copies & Reading Guide

For most of her life, Lauren Mahdian has been certain of two things: that her mother is dead, and that her father is a murderer. Before the horrific tragedy, Lauren led a sheltered life on the banks of Long Island Sound, a haven of luxurious homes and seemingly perfect families. But one morning, eight-year-old Lauren and her older brother awoke to discover their mother’s body and their beloved father arrested for the murder.

Years later, Lauren is surrounded by uncertainty. Startling revelations force her to peek under the floorboards of her carefully constructed memories, put aside the version of history that she has clung to so fiercely, and search for the truth of what really happened that fateful night long ago.

Reader’s Guide:

Random House – Includes a Summary, Author Bio, Brief Reviews, and Discussion Questions

Reviews & Articles:
Kirkus Reviews
Publisher’s Weekly

You Also Might Like:
The End of Everything by Megan Abbott
The Winters in Bloom by Lisa Tucker
The Sisters by Nancy Jensen

Did your book club read Close Your Eyes? Tell us what you thought by leaving a comment or join us over at Goodreads!

Book Club Kit: The Sandcastle Girls

Sandcastle Girls cover imageThe Sandcastle Girls
By Chris Bohjalian
First Published 2012
10 Copies & Reading Guide

When Elizabeth Endicott arrives in Aleppo, Syria, she has a diploma from Mount Holyoke, a crash course in nursing, and only the most basic grasp of the Armenian language. It’s 1915, and Elizabeth has volunteered to help deliver food and medical aid to refugees of the Armenian Genocide during the First World War. There she meets Armen, a young Armenian engineer who has already lost his wife and infant daughter. After leaving Aleppo and traveling into Egypt to join the British Army, he begins to write Elizabeth letters, realizing that he has fallen in love with the wealthy young American.

Years later, their American granddaughter, Laura, embarks on a journey back through her family’s history, uncovering a story of love, loss—and a wrenching secret that has been buried for generations.

Reader’s Guide:
Random House

Reviews & Articles:
The Washington Post – “Chris Bohjalian’s ‘The Sandcastle Girls’ Relives the Armenian Genocide” by Eugenia Zukerman
The Armenian Weekly – “The Kernel That Led to the Novel, The Sandcastle Girls” by Chris Bohjalian
Lonely Planetmap of Armenia

Author’s Website: http://www.chrisbohjalian.com

You Might Also Like:
Toby’s Room by Pat Barker
Waiting for Sunrise by William Boyd
The Burning Tigris by Peter Balakian

Did your book club read The Sandcastle Girls? Tell us what you thought by leaving a comment or join us over at Goodreads!

Book Club Kit: Wild From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Wild cover imageWild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
By Cheryl Strayed
First Published: 2012
10 Copies & Reading Guide

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered, and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

Reading Guide:
Random House – Includes a Summary, Author Bio, Brief Reviews, and Discussion Questions

Reviews:
NPR – “A Walk on the Wild Side” by Michael Schaub
New York Times – “The High Road Wild, a Hiking Memoir” by Dani Shapiro

Author’s Website: http://www.cherylstrayed.com

You Also Might Like:
Home is a Roof Over a Pig by Aminta Arrington
The Old Ways: A Journey on foot by Robert MacFarlane
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Book Club Kit: The Shoemaker’s Wife

The Shoemakers Wife cover imageThe Shoemaker’s Wife
By Adriana Trigiani
First Published: 2012
10 Copies & Reading Guide

The majestic beauty of the Italian Alps at the turn of the twentieth century is the setting of the first meeting of Enza, a practical beauty, and Ciro, a strapping mountain boy. When Ciro catches the local priest in a scandal, he is banished and sent to hide in America. Soon Enza’s family faces disaster and she, too, is forced to go to America.

Unbeknownst to one another, they both build fledgling lives in America. Ciro masters shoemaking and Enza takes a factory job until fate intervenes and reunites them. But it is too late: Ciro has volunteered to serve in World War I as Enza begins her impressive career as a seamstress at the Metropolitan Opera House. Over time, these star-crossed lovers meet and separate, until the power of their love changes both of their lives forever.

Inspired by Adriana Trigiani’s own family history and the love of tradition, The Shoemaker’s Wife defines an era with operatic scope that will live on in the imaginations of readers for years to come.

Reading Guide:
Harper Collins – Includes a Summary, Author Bio, and Discussion Questions

Reviews:
Publisher’s Weekly
Kirkus Review

You Might Also Like:
A Good American by Alex George
Elizabeth Street: a Novel Based on True Events by Laurie Fabiano
May the Road Rise Up to Meet You by Peter Troy

Book Club Kit: The Hour I First Believed

Hour I First BelievedThe Hour I First Believed
By Wally Lamb
First Published: 2008
10 Copies & Reading Guide

When high school teacher Caelum Quirk and his wife, Maureen, a school nurse, move to Littleton, Colorado, they both get jobs at Columbine High School. In April 1999, while Caelum is away, Maureen finds herself in the library at Columbine, cowering in a cabinet and expecting to be killed. Miraculously, she survives, but at a cost: she is unable to recover from the trauma. When Caelum and Maureen flee to an illusion of safety on the Quirk family’s Connecticut farm, they discover that the effects of chaos are not easily put right, and further tragedy ensues.

Reading Guide:
Harper Collins – Includes a Summary, Author Bio, and Discussion Questions

Reviews:
Booklist- Review by Joanne Wilkinson
Kirkus ReviewReview

You Might Also Like:
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
Columbine by David Cullen
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Book Club Kit: Before I Fall

Before I Fall cover imageBefore I Fall
by Lauren Oliver
First Published 2010
10 Copies & Reading Guide

Friday, February 12 is a big day for Samantha Kingston: It’s Cupid Day, when all the kids at school will count the roses they receive to see just how popular they are. It’s the day of Kent McFreaky’s party. It’s the day Sam plans to lose her virginity to her boyfriend, Rob. It’s also the day she dies . . . sort of. Sam is killed in a car crash on Friday, February 12, but she wakes the next morning to that same day, again and again. While living her last day on repeat, Sam discovers that she has a chance to do things over—to do things better. So what does it take to go from being a popular girl who can inflict a dozen small cruelties in a given day to being someone who will be remembered well in her own right? Samantha Kingston is about to find out.

Reading Guide:
ReadingGroupGuides – Includes a Book Description and Discussion Questions

Reviews:
The Hub – Review by Annie Schutte
Booklist - Review by Krista Hutley

Author’s Website:
http://www.laurenoliverbooks.com

You Might Also Like:

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
November Blues by Sharon M. Draper
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Stephanie Plum Readalikes

The next Stephanie Plum novel, Notorious Nineteen, hits shelves November 20th, but the holds list is already long! While you wait to see if Stephanie is with Morelli or Ranger, check out a few similar reads. New to the series? Start at the beginning with One for the Money!

Do you enjoy Stephanie Plum for the humor and mysteries? Try…

The Izzy Spellman Series by Lisa Lutz

  1. The Spellman Files
  2. Curse of the Spellmans
  3. Revenge of the Spellmans
  4. The Spellmans Strike Again
  5. Trail of the Spellmans

The Heather Wells Mysteries by Meg Cabot

  1. Size 12 is Not Fat
  2. Size 14 is Not Fat Either
  3. Big Boned
  4. Size 12 and Ready to Rock

Do you like the supernatural elements in the Between-the-Numbers novellas? Try…

The Lizzy and Diesel Series by Janet Evanovich

  1. Wicked Appetite
  2. Wicked Business

The Undead Novels by MaryJanice Davidson

  1. Undead and Unwed
  2. Undead and Unemployed
  3. Undead and Unappreciated
  4. Undead and Unreturnable
  5. Undead and Unpopular
  6. A complete series list is available on the author’s website.

You also might like…

For even more Stephanie Plum readalikes, check out this guide (you can even print it out if you want).

What’s your favorite Plum novel? Tell us in the comments.

We Recommend…Every Day by David Levithan

Every Day by David Levithan
Available formats: Hardcover | 3M Cloud eBook

Every Day is a story about love. A (the main character simply goes by the letter “A”) lives in other people’s bodies. A doesn’t have a choice. A simply wakes up as a different person every day, but still remembers the life lived the day before. One day A falls for the girlfriend of the boy he’s become for a day and there the story begins. The journey A takes over the time of this novel is heartbreaking and beautiful. We peek in on the lives of dozens of 16-year-olds — the beautiful, the obese, the depressed, the athletic — and it’s a great reminder that while we are all different, we are all so similar.

If you’ve read any of the following books and LOVED them, then definitely check out Every Day today! If you haven’t read them, well…they’re great reads! :)

Did you read Every Day? Tell us what you thought in the comments!

The Walking Dead Readalikes

The Walking Dead is finally back on TV with new episodes, but the season is only 16 episodes long and there are those pesky week-long breaks (and sometimes even longer!) between each new episode. Even worse, you could be one of those unlucky Dish Network customers without AMC! Either way, while you patiently wait to find out what happens next to your favorite characters (next week or until this season hits DVDs), check out some of these zombie-esque reads.

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks – An account of the decade-long conflict between humankind and hordes of the predatory undead is told from the perspective of dozens of survivors who describe in their own words the epic human battle for survival. A film adaptation starring Brad Pitt is scheduled to be released in 2013.

The Newsflesh Trilogy by Mira Grant – In 2014, cancer was cured. The common cold was no more. But with those two illnesses gone, something new and terrible took over. The infection spread across the globe, taking over bodies and minds with one command: Feed. Twenty years later, Shaun, George, and Buffy take on the story of the year and in the process attempt to expose the horrible conspiracy behind the infected.

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion – Want to read a zombie’s perspective? R is a zombie. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he has dreams. He doesn’t enjoy killing people; he enjoys riding escalators and listening to Frank Sinatra. He is a little different from his fellow Dead. This isn’t your average zombie tale. This one also has a film adaptation in the works.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith –It’s the classic love story with zombies! A mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton–and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she’s soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. After the success of this novel, a prequel, a sequel, and a graphic novel were published.

And, of course, you can always go back to the original source for the TV show – the graphic novelsThe Walking Dead: Compendium One  includes the first 8 volumes of the comics.

For more zombie-related reads, infographics, and more, check out our Pinterest page!

Retelling Fairy Tales: The Little Mermaid

For a while, did it feel like “The Little Mermaid” was getting left behind? Hans Christian Andersen’s tale hasn’t seen a big screen update in many years and it seems the Cinderellas and Snow Whites are always getting more love in literary retellings than the Sea King’s daughter. Maybe it’s because there are fewer versions of the mermaid’s story though Andersen did have a few stories he was influenced by. But overall there are fewer original stories of this fairy tale than many of the other stories we’re familiar with — there are no Grimm or Lang versions of “The Little Mermaid.”

Despite the origins perhaps time’s are changing and mermaids are beginning to get a little more respect. According to The Hub, mermaids are an upcoming trend in Young Adult literature and where YA goes, the rest of the literary world is sure to follow. *fingers crossed*

Below we’ve included a few “Little Mermaid” remixes (a couple based on “Undine“) as well as recently published mermaid stories.

Goddess of the Sea by P.C. Cast — A romance about 25 year-old US Air Force sergeant Christine Canady who is looking for something to cure her loneliness. After drinking too much champagne, she recites a divine invocation to revive her humdrum life. But how is she to know the spell actually works? When her plane crashes into the ocean, CC’s life changes forever.

Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs — Seventeen-year-old Lily, half-mermaid and half-human, has been living on land and attending high school, where she develops a crush on a boy but is afraid to tell him of her true destiny as the ruler of the undersea kingdom of Thalassinia.

Mermaid: A Twist on the Classic Tale by Carolyn Turgeon — The story of two women with everything to lose: Princess Margrethe who’s kingdom is at war and Princess Lenia, a mermaid longing to return to the human man she carried to safety.

Lost Voices by Sarah Porter — Assaulted and left on the cliffs outside of her grim Alaskan fishing village by her abusive, alcoholic uncle, fourteen-year-old Luce expects to die when she tumbles into the icy waters below, but when she instead transforms into a mermaid she is faced with struggles and choices she could never have imagined.

Midnight Pearls: A Retelling of ‘The Little Mermaid” by Debbie Viguié — A mysterious child is rescued by a fisherman at sea. She grows up not always welcomed in the village and has only one very special, secret companion — Prince James.

More Mermaids:

Around the Web: