[Survey Closed] Book Club Kits Survey March 2013

It’s that time again – we want to know what your book clubs want to read! Below you will find the descriptions of the books on our Spring Book Club Survey. The survey is closed.

Book Descriptions and Reviews:

A Partial History of Lost Causes cover imageA Partial History of Lost Causes by Jennifer duBois
Reviews: Kirkus | Publisher’s Weekly
In Jennifer duBois’s debut novel, a long-lost letter links two disparate characters, each searching for meaning against seemingly insurmountable odds. In St. Petersburg, Russia, world chess champion Aleksandr Bezetov begins a quixotic quest: He launches a dissident presidential campaign against Vladimir Putin. He knows he will not win—and that he is risking his life in the process—but a deeper conviction propels him forward.
In Cambridge, Massachusetts, thirty-year-old English lecturer Irina Ellison struggles for a sense of purpose. Irina is certain she has inherited Huntington’s disease—the same cruel illness that ended her father’s life. When Irina finds an old, photocopied letter her father wrote to the young Aleksandr Bezetov, she makes a fateful decision. Her father asked the chess prodigy a profound question—How does one proceed in a lost cause?—but never received an adequate reply. Leaving everything behind, Irina travels to Russia to find Bezetov and get an answer for her father, and for herself.

Orphan Master's Son cover imageThe Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson
Reviews: Kirkus | Publisher’s Weekly
Pak Jun Do is the haunted son of a lost mother—a singer “stolen” to Pyongyang—and an influential father who runs a work camp for orphans. Superiors in the state soon recognize the boy’s loyalty and keen instincts. Considering himself “a humble citizen of the greatest nation in the world,” Jun Do rises in the ranks. He becomes a professional kidnapper who must navigate the shifting rules, arbitrary violence, and baffling demands of his Korean overlords in order to stay alive. Driven to the absolute limit of what any human being could endure, he boldly takes on the treacherous role of rival to Kim Jong Il in an attempt to save the woman he loves, Sun Moon, a legendary actress “so pure, she didn’t know what starving people looked like.”
In this epic, Adam Johnson provides a riveting portrait of a world rife with hunger, corruption, and casual cruelty but also camaraderie, stolen moments of beauty, and love.

The Paris Wife cover imagThe Paris Wife by Paula McLain
Reviews: Kirkus | Publisher’s Weekly
Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill prepared for the hard-drinking, fast-living, and free-loving life of Jazz Age Paris. As Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history and pours himself into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises, Hadley strives to hold on to her sense of self as her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Eventually they find themselves facing the ultimate crisis of their marriage—a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they’ve fought so hard for.

Canada cover imageCanada by Richard Ford
Reviews: Kirkus | Publisher’s Weekly
When fifteen-year-old Del Parsons’ parents rob a North Dakota bank, his normal life is altered forever, and a threshold is crossed that can never be uncrossed. His parents’ imprisonment threatens a turbulent and uncertain future for Del and his twin sister, Berner. Fierce with resentment, Berner flees their Montana home for California. But Del is not completely abandoned. A family friend spirits him across the Canadian border toward safety and a better life. Undone by the calamity of his parents’ robbery, Del struggles to remake himself. But his search for grace only moves him nearer to a harrowing and murderous collision with the forces of darkness that shadow us all.
A true masterwork of haunting and spectacular vision, Canada is a profound novel of boundaries traversed, innocence lost and reconciled, and the mysterious and consoling bonds of family.

The Shoemakers Wife cover imageThe Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani
Reviews: Kirkus | Publisher’s Weekly
The fateful first meeting of Enza and Ciro takes place amid the haunting majesty of the Italian Alps at the turn of the last century. Still teenagers, they are separated when Ciro is banished from his village and sent to hide in New York’s Little Italy, apprenticed to a shoemaker, leaving a bereft Enza behind. But when her own family faces disaster, she, too, is forced to emigrate to America. Though destiny will reunite the star-crossed lovers, it will, just as abruptly, separate them once again—sending Ciro off to serve in World War I, while Enza is drawn into the glamorous world of the opera . . . and into the life of the international singing sensation Enrico Caruso. Still, Enza and Ciro have been touched by fate—and, ultimately, the power of their love will change their lives forever. A riveting historical epic of love and family, war and loss, risk and destiny, inspired by the author’s own family history.

A Land More Kind than Home cover imageA Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash
Reviews: Kirkus | Publisher’s Weekly
For a curious boy like Jess Hall, growing up in Marshall means trouble when you get caught spying on grown-ups. Adventurous and precocious, Jess is protective of his older brother, Christopher, a mute whom everyone calls Stump. Though their mother has warned them not to snoop, Stump can’t help sneaking a look at something he’s not supposed to—an act that will have repercussions. It’s a wrenching event that thrusts Jess into an adulthood for which he’s not prepared. He now knows that a new understanding can bring not only danger and evil—but also the possibility of freedom and deliverance.  A Land More Kind Than Home is a haunting tale of courage in the face of cruelty and the power of love to overcome the darkness that lives in us all.

A Train in Winter cover imageA Train in Winter by Caroline Moorehead
Reviews: Kirkus | Publisher’s Weekly
They were teachers, students, chemists, writers, and housewives; a singer at the Paris Opera; a midwife; a dental surgeon. They distributed anti-Nazi leaflets, printed subversive newspapers, hid resisters, secreted Jews to safety, transported weapons, and conveyed clandestine messages. Strangers to one another, hailing from villages and cities across France—230 brave women united in defiance of their Nazi occupiers—they were eventually hunted down by the Gestapo. Separated from home and loved ones, imprisoned in a fort outside Paris, they found solace and strength in their deep affection and camaraderie.
In January 1943, they were sent to their final destination: Auschwitz. Only forty-nine would return to France. Drawing on interviews with these women and their families, and on documents in German, French, and Polish archives, A Train in Winter is a remarkable account of the extraordinary courage of ordinary people.

The Hour I First Believed cover imageThe Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb
Reviews: Kirkus | Booklist
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.

Close Your Eyes cover imageClose Your Eyes by Amanda Eyre Ward
Reviews: Kirkus | Publisher’s Weekly
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.

Price of Civilization cover imageThe Price of Civilization by Jeffrey Sachs
Reviews: Kirkus | Publisher’s Weekly
In this forceful and impassioned book, Jeffrey D. Sachs offers a searing and incisive diagnosis of our country’s economic ills, and an urgent call for Americans to restore the core virtues of fairness, honesty, and foresight as the foundations of national prosperity. Sachs finds that both political parties—and many leading economists—have missed the big picture, profoundly underestimating globalization’s long-term effects and offering shortsighted solutions. He describes a political system that is beholden to big donors and influential lobbyists and a consumption-driven culture that suffers shortfalls of social trust and compassion. He bids readers to reclaim the virtues of good citizenship and mindfulness toward the economy and each one another. Most important, he urges each of us to accept the price of civilization, so that together we restore America to its great promise. The Price of Civilization is a masterly road map for prosperity, founded on America’s deepest values and on a rigorous understanding of the twenty-first-century world economy.

Hangman's Daughter cover imageThe Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Potzsch
Reviews: Booklist | Publisher’s Weekly
Germany, 1660: When a dying boy is pulled from the river with a mark crudely tattooed on his shoulder, hangman Jakob Kuisl is called upon to investigate whether witchcraft is at play. It is 1659, the Thirty Years’ War has finally ended, and there hasn’t been a witchcraft mania in decades. But now, a drowning and gruesomely injured boy, tattooed with the mark of a witch, is pulled from a river and the villagers suspect the local midwife, Martha Stechlin. Jakob Kuisl is charged with extracting a confession from her and torturing her until he gets one. Convinced she is innocent, he, his daughter Magdalena, and her would-be suitor  race against the clock to find the true killer.
Taking us back in history to a place where autopsies were blasphemous, coffee was an exotic drink, dried toads were the recommended remedy for the plague, and the devil was as real as anything, The Hangman’s Daughter brings to cinematic life the sights, sounds, and smells of seventeenth-century Bavaria.

The Newlyweds cover imageThe Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger
Reviews: Kirkus | Publisher’s Weekly
Amina Mazid is twenty-four when she moves from Bangladesh to Rochester, New York, for love. A hundred years ago, Amina would have been called a mail-order bride. But this is the twenty-first century: she is wooed by—and woos—George Stillman online.
For Amina, George offers a chance for a new life for her and her parents, as well as a different kind of happiness than she might find back home. For George, Amina is a woman who doesn’t play games. But each of them is hiding something: someone from the past they thought they could leave behind. It is only when Amina returns to Bangladesh that she and George find out if their secrets will tear them apart, or if they can build a future together.

Anatomy of a Disappearance cover imageAnatomy of a Disappearance by Hisham Matar
Reviews: Kirkus | Publisher’s Weekly
Nuri is a young boy when his mother dies. It seems that nothing will fill the emptiness her death leaves behind in the Cairo apartment he shares with his father—until they meet Mona, sitting in her yellow swimsuit by the pool of the Magda Marina hotel. As soon as Nuri sees Mona, the rest of the world vanishes. But it is Nuri’s father with whom Mona falls in love and whom she eventually marries. Their happiness consumes Nuri to the point where he wishes his father would disappear. Nuri will, however, soon regret what he’s wished for. When his father, a dissident in exile from his homeland, is abducted under mysterious circumstances, the world that Nuri and his stepmother share is shattered. Soon they begin to realize how little they knew about the man they both loved.

The Pig Did It cover imageThe Pig Did It by Joseph Caldwell
Reviews: Kirkus | Publisher’s Weekly
A pig escapes from its pen and roots up the garden of Kitty McCloud, a bestselling novelist who “corrects” the classics. What the obstreperous little pig unearths is evidence of a possible transgression that the novel’s three Irish characters—the plagiarizing Kitty, her blood-feud rival Kieran, and a sexy swineherd named Lolly—are convinced the other has probably benefited from. How this hilarious mystery is resolved inspires both comic eloquence and a theatrically colorful canvas depicting the brooding Irish land and seascape.

Wild cover imageWild by Cheryl Strayed
Reviews: Kirkus | Publisher’s Weekly
A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe-and built her back up again. 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: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State-and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than “an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.” But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone. Strayed faces down rattlesnakes and black bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and both the beauty and loneliness of the trail. Told with great suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

Sandcastle Girls cover imageThe Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian
Reviews:  Kirkus | Publisher’s Weekly
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. The year is 1915 and she has volunteered on behalf of the Boston-based Friends of Armenia to help deliver food and medical aid to refugees of the Armenian genocide. There Elizabeth becomes friendly with Armen, a young Armenian engineer who has already lost his wife and infant daughter. When Armen leaves Aleppo and travels south into Egypt to join the British army, he begins to write Elizabeth letters, and comes to realize that he has fallen in love with the wealthy, young American woman who is so different from the wife he lost.
Fast forward to the present day, where we meet Laura Petrosian, a novelist living in suburban New York. Although her grandparents’ ornate Pelham home was affectionately nicknamed “The Ottoman Annex,” Laura has never really given her Armenian heritage much thought. But when an old friend calls, claiming to have seen a newspaper photo of Laura’s grandmother promoting an exhibit at a Boston museum, Laura embarks on a journey back through her family’s history that reveals love, loss – and a wrenching secret that has been buried for generations.

Before I Fall cover imageBefore I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Reviews: Kirkus | Publisher’s Weekly
What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life
Samantha Kingston has it all: the world’s most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High—from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it turns out to be her last.
Then she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.

The Survey Results are In!

Thanks to everyone who participated in our first Book Club survey. I hope you enjoyed it and took some time to look around our Book Club blog – perhaps to leave a comment about a book you’ve read or begin following us on Twitter

The new titles are:

1) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
2) Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
3) A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
3) We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
4) Room by Emma Donoghue
4) The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi W Durrow
4) Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson

We’ll let you know when the titles are available for borrowing!

If you had any problems accessing the survey or have titles to include on the Spring survey, let us know!

[Closed] Survey: New Book Club Kits

It’s the beginning of the fiscal year and we’re getting ready to add new titles to our book club kits. Of course, we want to know what your clubs want to read! Read the descriptions below, check out the reviews, then click the link below to access the survey.

Book Club Selections Survey

Be sure to share the link with your book club members!

Descriptions: Continue reading