Book Club Pick: Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

Bittersweet From Left to Write Book Club Banner

Bittersweet From Left to Write Book Club Banner

Warm weather makes me dream of beaches and lazy summer days. Our last May book club pick Bittersweet a novel by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore will transport you right to a private Vermont island, where the wealthy Winslow clan spends their summer days. Invited to spend the summer with her college roommate, Mabel becomes immersed into a life of affluence and entitlement, which always comes at a price.

More about the book:

On scholarship at a prestigious East Coast college, ordinary Mabel Dagmar is surprised to befriend her roommate, the beautiful, wild, blue-blooded Genevra Winslow. Ev invites Mabel to spend the summer at Bittersweet, her cottage on the Vermont estate where her family has been holding court for more than a century; it’s the kind of place where children twirl sparklers across the lawn during cocktail hour. Mabel falls in love with midnight skinny-dipping, the wet dog smell that lingers near the yachts, and the moneyed laughter that carries across the still lake while fireworks burst overhead. Before she knows it, she has everything she’s ever wanted:  friendship, a boyfriend, access to wealth, and, most of all, for the first time in her life, the sense that she belongs.

But as Mabel becomes an insider, a terrible discovery leads to shocking violence and reveals what the Winslows may have done to keep their power intact – and what they might do to anyone who threatens them. Mabel must choose: either expose the ugliness surrounding her and face expulsion from paradise, or keep the family’s dark secrets and make Ev’s world her own.

 Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

Join From Left to Write members on May 20 when discuss Bittersweet. Make sure to grab your copy and let us know what you think of the novel. You’ll find the Winslow clan just as fascinating as we did.

In the meantime, visit the Miranda Beverly’s site and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

July Book Club: The Execution of Noa P. Singleton by Elizabeth L. Silver

Execution of Noa P Singleton by Elizabeth Silver

Execution of Noa P Singleton by Elizabeth Silver

The July heat won’t let us forget that we are in the midst of summer. Whew! Of course summer means reading by the pool or the beach. I have yet to do either, opting for the comfort of my couch and a glass of iced coffee instead of sweating buckets.  Need another summer read? This month our book club selection is The Execution of Noa P. Singleton by Elizabeth L. Silver.

I read this book in a weekend. I couldn’t put it down. As you remember, it was one of my top book club picks from BEA. When you read the book synopsis, you’ll see why:

Noa P. Singleton never spoke a word in her own defense throughout a brief trial that ended with a jury finding her guilty of first-degree murder. Ten years later, having accepted her fate, she sits on death row in a maximum-security penitentiary, just six months away from her execution date.

Seemingly out of the blue, she is visited by Marlene Dixon, a high-powered Philadelphia attorney who is also the mother of the woman Noa was imprisoned for killing. Marlene tells Noa that she has changed her mind about the death penalty and Noa’s sentence, and will do everything in her considerable power to convince the governor to commute the sentence to life in prison, in return for the one thing Noa is unwilling to trade: her story.

Marlene desperately wants Noa to reveal the events that led to her daughter’s death – events that Noa has never shared with a soul. With death looming, Marlene believes that Noa may finally give her the answers she needs, though Noa is far from convinced that Marlene deserves the salvation she alone can deliver. Inextricably linked by murder but with very different goals, Noa and Marlene wrestle with the sentences life itself can impose while they confront the best and worst of what makes us human in this haunting tale of love, anguish, and deception.

 

This book was such a satisfying read for me. I hope you and our From Left to Write members will enjoy it as much as I did. Grab your copy of  The Execution of Noa P. Singleton and join us on July 30 when we discuss the book.

In the meantime, you visit Elizabeth L. Silver’s website, on her Facebook page, or chat with her on Twitter.

June Book Club: Those We Love the Most by Lee Woodruff

Those We Love Most by Lee Woodruff

Those We Love Most by Lee Woodruff

 

There’s just a few more days left in May, but I just had to announce our June book club selection. I’m excited to share that our From Left to Write members are reading Those We Love Most, Lee Woodruff’s first work of fiction. This novel explores how a family adjusts to life after an unexpected tragedy. As each person tries to adjust to their new life, secrets start creeping out of their closets.

Life is good for Maura Corrigan. Married to her college sweetheart, Pete, raising three young kids with her parents nearby in her peaceful Chicago suburb, her world is secure. Then one day, in a single turn of fate, that entire world comes crashing down and everything that she thought she knew changes.

Maura must learn to move forward with the weight of grief and the crushing guilt of an unforgivable secret. Pete senses a gap growing between him and his wife but finds it easier to escape to the bar with his friends than face the flaws in his marriage.

Meanwhile, Maura’s parents are dealing with the fault lines in their own marriage. Charismatic Roger, who at sixty-five, is still chasing the next business deal and Margaret, a pragmatic and proud homemaker, have been married for four decades, seemingly happily. But the truth is more complicated. Like Maura, Roger has secrets of his own and when his deceptions and weaknesses are exposed, Margaret’s love and loyalty face the ultimate test.

Those We Love Most chronicles how these unforgettable characters confront their choices, examine their mistakes, fight for their most valuable relationships, and ultimately find their way back to each other. It takes us deep into the heart of what makes families and marriages tick and explores a fundamental question: when the ties that bind us to those we love are strained or broken, how do we pick up the pieces?

You’ll want to pick up a copy of Those We Love Most so you can join our book club discussion on June 6th. Make sure you keep the tissues nearby when you read it. I read my copy on the airplane and had to hold back the tears lest my seatmate think I was insane. Or scared of flying.

Keep up with Lee Woodruff and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

September Book Club Announcement: The Bloodletter’s Daughter by Linda Lafferty

The Bloodletter's Daughter by Linda Lafferty

The Bloodletters Daughter by Linda Lafferty

For our second September book club selection, we’re headed to early 17th century for a fictional account of the Bohemian Hapsburg Court in Linda Lafferty’s The Bloodletter’s Daughter (A Novel of Old Bohemia).  Read more and find out how you can win 1 of 5 copies of the book!

Inspired by a real-life murder that threatened to topple the powerful Hapsburg dynasty, the novel follows Marketa, a young woman who can only dream of being a bloodletter. Women were not allowed to become a bloodletter or a doctor, but as her father’s assistant Marketa studied as much as she could.

More about the book:

 Within the glittering Hapsburg court in Prague lurks a darkness that no one dares mention…

In 1606, the city of Prague shines as a golden mecca of art and culture carefully cultivated by Emperor Rudolf II. But the emperor hides an ugly secret: His bastard son, Don Julius, is afflicted with a madness that pushes the young prince to unspeakable depravity. Desperate to stem his son’s growing number of scandals, the emperor exiles Don Julius to a remote corner of Bohemia, where the young man is placed in the care of a bloodletter named Pichler. The bloodletter’s task: cure Don Julius of his madness by purging the vicious humors coursing through his veins.

When Pichler brings his daughter Marketa to assist him, she becomes the object of Don Julius’s frenzied–and dangerous–obsession. To him, she embodies the women pictured in the Coded Book of Wonder, a priceless manuscript from the imperial library that was his only link to sanity. As the prince descends further into the darkness of his mind, his acts become ever more desperate, as Marketa, both frightened and fascinated, can’t stay away.

Are you intrigued? Grab a copy of The Bloodletter’s Daughter (A Novel of Old Bohemia) and join our book club members on September 25 when we discuss the novel.

Want to win your own copy?  We’re giving away FIVE copies of the book (US addresses only).  Just use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter the giveaway.

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September Book Club Announcement: January First by

January First by Michael Shofield Book Cover

January First by Michael Shofield Book Cover

Can you believe it’s September already? We’re swinging right into fall with our next book club selection, January First by Michael Schofield. In this memoir, readers see firsthand Schofield’s frustration, hopes, and dreams for his daughter.

Michael Schofield’s daughter January is at the mercy of her imaginary friends, except they aren’t the imaginary friends that most young children have; they are hallucinations. And January is caught in the conflict between our world and their world, a place she calls Calalini.  Some of these hallucinations, like “24 Hours,” are friendly and some, like “400 the Cat” and “Wednesday the Rat,” bite and scratch her until she does what they want.  They often tell her to scream at strangers, jump out of buildings, and attack her baby brother.

At six years old, January Schofield, “Janni,” to her family, was diagnosed with schizophrenia, one of the worst mental illnesses known to man.  What’s more, schizophrenia is 20 to 30 times more severe in children than in adults and in January’s case, doctors say, she is hallucinating 95 percent of the time that she is awake. Potent psychiatric drugs that would level most adults barely faze her.

The memoir is an intense and gripping read that you won’t be able to put down. Many of our book club members read it in a couple of days. So grab your copy of January First by Michael Schofield. Then come back this Thursday, September 6 and join us as we discuss the book.

Learn more about Michael’s family and Jani on his blog, Jani’s Journey.

See you Thursday!

August Book Club: The Baker’s Daughter by Sarah McCoy

The Bakers Daughter by Sarah McCoy

The Bakers Daughter by Sarah McCoy

We took a book club hiatus for July, but now we’re back to our regularly scheduled program. This month, our book club  members are reading The Baker’s Daughter by Sarah McCoy. In this novel we visit Germany during World War II and see the war unfold from a German teen’s perspective.

More about the book:

In 1945, Elsie Schmidt is a naive teenager, as eager for her first sip of champagne as she is for her first kiss. She and her family have been protected from the worst of the terror and desperation overtaking her country by a high-ranking Nazi who wishes to marry her. So when an escaped Jewish boy arrives on Elsie’s doorstep in the dead of night on Christmas Eve, Elsie understands that opening the door would put all she loves in danger.

Sixty years later, in El Paso, Texas, Reba Adams is trying to file a feel-good Christmas piece for the local magazine. Reba is perpetually on the run from memories of a turbulent childhood, but she’s been in El Paso long enough to get a full-time job and a fiancé, Riki Chavez. Riki, an agent with the U.S. Border Patrol, finds comfort in strict rules and regulations, whereas Reba feels that lines are often blurred.

Reba’s latest assignment has brought her to the shop of an elderly baker across town. The interview should take a few hours at most, but the owner of Elsie’s German Bakery is no easy subject. Reba finds herself returning to the bakery again and again, anxious to find the heart of the story. For Elsie, Reba’s questions are a stinging reminder of darker times: her life in Germany during that last bleak year of WWII. And as Elsie, Reba, and Riki’s lives become more intertwined, all are forced to confront the uncomfortable truths of the past and seek out the courage to forgive.

The Baker’s Daughter by Sarah McCoy is currently available in hardcover but will be released in paperback on August 14. So grab your copy, in whatever format you prefer, and join our From Left to Write members on August 29 as we discuss the book.

In the mean time check out Sarah McCoy’s website or follow her on Twitter. She loves chatting with her readers and is super nice. Tell her we sent you!