Book Club Kit: The Dressmaker

The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott

The Dressmaker
by Kate Alcott
First Published: 2011
10 Copies & Reading Guide

Tess, an aspiring seamstress, thinks she’s had an incredibly lucky break when she is hired by famous designer Lady Lucile Duff Gordon to be a personal maid on the Titanic’s doomed voyage. Once on board, Tess catches the eye of two men, one a roughly-hewn but kind sailor and the other an enigmatic Chicago millionaire. But on the fourth night, disaster strikes. Amidst the chaos and desperate urging of two very different suitors, Tess is one of the last people allowed on a lifeboat. Tess’s sailor also manages to survive unharmed, witness to Lady Duff Gordon’s questionable actions during the tragedy. On dry land, rumors about the survivors begin to circulate, and Lady Duff Gordon quickly becomes the subject of media scorn and later, the hearings on the Titanic.

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

Reviews & Articles:
The Denver Post – “Review” by Carolyn See
The New York Times – “Book is Judged by the Name on Its Cover” by Julie Bosman
The Huffington Post – “Review and Interview” by Julie A. Carlson

On the Web:
Titanic: 1oo Years — Find out more about the Titanic and books about the tragedy, including links to additional articles on our Pinterest board.

If you enjoyed The Dressmaker, you also might like:


Book Club Kit: Minding Frankie

Minding Frankie
by Maeve Binchy
First Published: 2011
10 Copies & Reading Guide

When Nöel learns that his former flame is terminally ill and pregnant with a child she claims is his, he agrees to take care of the baby girl once she’s born. But as a recovering alcoholic whose demons are barely under control, he can’t do it alone. Luckily, he has an amazing network of family and friends who are ready to help. A tale of joy, heartbreak and hope in a close-knit Dublin community.

Reading Guide:
LitLovers -Includes Author Bio, Brief Reviews, and Discussion Questions


On the Web:

I’d like people to think I was a good friend and a reasonable story-teller and to know that thanks to all the great people, family and friends that I met, I was very, very happy when I was here. — Maeve Binchy

Booktopia Blog – “Maeve Binchy Answers Ten Terrifying Questions

Want to read more by Maeve Binchy?

If you enjoyed Minding Frankie, you also might like…

Book Club Kit: Among Others

Among Others
by Jo Walton
First Published: 2011
10 Copies & Reading

This is the story of a young woman struggling to escape a troubled childhood, a brilliant diary of first encounters with the great novels of modern fantasy and SF, and a spellbinding tale of escape from ancient enchantment. As a child growing up in Wales, Morwenna Phelps played among the spirits who made their homes in industrial ruins. But her mind found freedom and promise in the science fiction novels that were her closest companions. Then her mother tried to bend the spirits to dark ends, and Mori was forced to confront her in a magical battle that left her crippled–and her twin sister dead…

No Reading Guide?
LitLovers – Generic Questions for Fiction
Book Club Resource – Book Club Discussion Questions and Topics

SF Signal – “Book Review” by Paul Weimer
The Washington Post – “Book Review” by Elizabeth Hand
Booklist – “Review” by Margaret Flanagan

On the Web:

If you enjoyed Among Others, you might like…

Book Club Kit: The Dressmaker of Khair Khana

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe
by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
First Published: 2011
10 Copies & Reading Guide

The incredible true account of Kamila Sidiqi who, when her father and brother were forced to flee Kabul, became the sole breadwinner for her five siblings. Armed only with grit and determination, she picked up a needle and thread and created a thriving business of her own and held her family together.

Reading Guide:
HarperCollins – Includes an Introduction to the Book and Discussion Questions

The Washington Times – “Book Review” by Sandra McElwaine
The Christian Science Monitor – “Review” by Kelly Nuxoll

Around the Web:
Author’s Website – Includes Book Club Info, Videos, an Excerpt, and more!
Psychology Today – “Gayle T. Lemmon Talks About The Dressmaker of Khair Khana” with Jennifer Haupt
NPR: Morning Edition – “In Kabul, a Dressmaker Sows Entrepreneurial Seeds
Library Journal – “Video Q&A: Gayle Lemmon

If you enjoyed The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, you might like…

Book Club Kit: Cleopatra

Cleopatra: A Life
by Stacy Schiff
First Published: 2010
10 Copies & Reading Guide

To this day, Cleopatra proves to be one of the most important and controversial figures in ancient history. Married to both of her brothers, the first of which she defeated in a civil war before ordering the second’s murder, Cleopatra would also have affairs with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony and nearly tear the Roman Empire in two. However, author Stacy Schiff believes history has given Cleopatra a bad rap and sets out to tell the Egyptian queen’s true story.

Reading Guide:
LitLovers – Includes Book Summary, Author Bio, Brief Reviews, and Discussion Questions

The New York Times – “The Woman Who Had the World Enthralled” by Michiko Kakutani
The Washington Post – “Stacy Schiff’s New Biography of Cleopatra” reviewed by Marie Arana
Los Angeles Times – “Book Review” by Wendy Smith

Around the Web:
Author’s Website – Includes Videos, Essays, and more.
O, The Oprah Magazine – “Why Cleopatra Still Matters” – Stacy Schiff interviewed by Liza Nelson
The New York Times – “Cleopatra’s Guide to Good Governance” by Stacy Schiff
The Wall Street Journal – “Still Under Cleopatra’s Spell” by Stacy Schiff
National Geographic — Website for the Cleopatra: The Search for the Last Queen of Egypt exhibit — it includes audio slide shows and maps about Cleopatra’s Egypt.

Looking for historical fiction about Cleopatra? Try…

Or are you looking for more biographies of women rulers? Try…

Book Club Kit: Fablehaven

by Brandon Mull
First Published: 2006
9 Copies & Reading Guide

When Kendra and Seth go to stay at their grandparents’ estate, they discover that it is a sanctuary for magical creatures and that a battle between good and evil is looming.

Reading Guides:
Multnomah County Library – Includes Book Info, Discussion Questions, Snack Suggestions, and more.
Author’s Website — Teacher’s Guide

GoodreadsBrowse hundreds of reviews of Fablehaven by fellow readers.
Through the Looking Glass Children’s Book Reviews
– “Review of Audio Book” by Marya Jansen-Gruber
Kirkus’ ReviewReviewed on Aug 1 2006

Author’s Website –

Want to read the rest of the series?

Want more fantasy titles similar to Fablehaven, try…

Book Club Kit: Sarah’s Key

Tatiana de Rosnay - Sarah's KeySarah’s Key
by Tatiana De Rosnay
First Published: 2007
10 Copies & Reading Guide

Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel d’Hiv’ roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family’s apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours. Paris, May 2002: On Vel d’Hiv’s 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France’s past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl’s ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d’Hiv’, to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah’s past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life.

Reading Guide:
LitLovers – Includes Book Summary, Author Bio, Discussion Questions, and  Book Reviews

Publishers Weekly -“Book Review” Reviewed on 05/28/07
Jewish Literary Review – “Two Families, Linked by Death, and a Secret” by Steve Pollak
BlogCritics – “Book Review” by Emm

Author’s Website: (in French)

More about the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup:
The New York Times – “France Reflects on Its Role in Wartime Fate of Jews” by Scott Sayare
The Huffington Post – “Cecile Widerman Kaufer, Holocaust Survivor, Recounts 1942 Vel D’Hiv Roundup in Paris Stadium” by Tara Kelly
Radio France International – “France Commemorates Victims of Vel d’Hiv Roundup
Online Encylopedia of Mass ViolenceCase Study: The Vélodrome d’hiver Round-up: July 16 and 17, 1942

If you enjoyed Sarah’s Key, you might like…

Food Bonus! Check out The Book Club Cook Book for Sarah’s Key inspired recipes.

Book Club Kit: The Lost Hero

Rick Riordan - The Lost HeroThe Lost Hero (The Heroes of Olympus #1)
by Rick Riordan
First Published: 2010
10 Copies & Reading Guide

Jason, Piper, and Leo, three students from a school for “bad kids,” find themselves at Camp Half-Blood, where they learn that they are demigods and begin a quest to free Hera, who has been imprisoned by Mother Earth herself.

Reading Guide:
Disney Hyperion – Includes information on Mythology, Author Info, Activities, and Discussion Questions.

Scholastic News Kid Press Corps – “Book Review: The Lost Hero” by Gowtham Balaji
Lesa’s Book Critiques – “Review” by Lesa (an Arizona Librarian)
Kirkus Reviews – “Rick Riordan’s The Lost Hero” by Vicky Smith 

On the Web:
The Online World of Rick Riordan – Filled with fun information about all of his books.
The Heroes of Olympus website – Includes Printables, Character Info, and more.
Arts Beat – “Rick Riordan’s Favorite Childhood Books” by Pamela Paul
Goodreads – Reader written trivia questions and quizzes.

Want to read more like this? Try…

Book Club Kit: Silver Sparrow

Tayari Jones - Silver SparrowSilver Sparrow
by Tayari Jones
First Published: 2011
10 Copies & Reading Guide

Set in a middle-class neighborhood in Atlanta in the 1980s, Silver Sparrow revolves around James Witherspoon’s two families-the public one and the secret one. When the daughters from each family meet and form a friendship, only one of them knows they are sisters. It is a relationship destined to explode when secrets are revealed and illusions shattered.

Reading Guide:
Reading Group Choices – Includes a Book Summary, Praise, and Conversation Starters
Algonquin Book Club – Includes Excerpts, a Webcast, Author Info, Discussion Questions, and more! – Includes a Book Review and Discussion Questions

Reviews and Articles:
The Washington Post – “Book Review” by Anita Shreve
NPR, All Things Considered – “Silver Sparrow, Tayari Jones’ Tale of Secret Sisters
Los Angeles Times – “Book Review” by Susan Straight
Chicago Tribune – “Review” by Shamontiel L. Vaughn

Author’s Website:

Want to read more like Silver Sparrow? Try:
Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve
Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson
The Secret Life of Bees (Book Club Kit) by Sue Monk Kidd

Book Club Kit: The Warmth of Other Suns

Isabel Wilkerson - The Warmth of Other SunsThe Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration
by Isabel Wilkerson
First Published: 2010
10 Copies & Reading Guide

In this epic, beautifully written masterwork, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson chronicles one of the great untold stories of American history: the decades-long migration of black citizens who fled the South for northern and western cities, in search of a better life. From 1915 to 1970, this exodus of almost six million people changed the face of America. Wilkerson compares this epic migration to the migrations of other peoples in history. She interviewed more than a thousand people, and gained access to new data and official records, to write this definitive and vividly dramatic account of how these American journeys unfolded, altering our cities, our country, and ourselves.

Reading Guide:
LitLovers –  Includes Author Info, Book Reviews, and Discussion Questions

The New York Times – “Freedom Trains” by David Oshinsky and “The Lives Gained by Fleeing Jim Crow” by Janet Maslin
AARP The Magazine – “Review” by Charles Cobb Jr
Los Angeles Times – “Book Review” by Lynell George
The Wall Street Journal – “The Great Northern Migration” by John Stauffer
The New Yorker – “The Uprooted” by Jill Lepore

On the Web:
Isabel Wilkerson’s Website –
The New York Times – “A Writer’s Long Journey to Trace the Great Migration” by Charles McGrath
NPR: Fresh Air from WHYY – “Great Migration: The African-American Exodus North
TIME – “Q&A: Isabel Wilkerson on Black America’s Immigration Story” by Steven Gray
C-SPAN – “Q&A with Isabel Wilkerson” [Video]

If you enjoyed The Warmth of Other Suns, you might like:
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Jazz by Toni Morrison
Enrique’s Journey by Sonia Nazario
The Grace of Silence by Michele Norris