Featured Book Club Of The Month–Evansville, Indiana

November 20, 2012 at 12:09 pm , by

The club poses with Bobby Deen on their trip to Savannah, GA.

The women of the Make Time To Read Book Club in Evansville, Indiana share a bond goes far beyond a common interest in reading. “Book Club has expanded my repertoire of reading choices and taken me outside of my comfort zone,” says club member Laura Stephenson. “But more importantly, I’ve formed life-long friendships.”

How many members do you have, and how long have you been getting together for book club meetings?

“We have been a group for the past 14 years with 15 members currently. Even though they aren’t official members, we have had 4 children marry through the years and 2 have ‘book club grandbabies.’” – Jerrianne Bonenberger

Is there anything special you do for each meeting or on occasion?

“We rotate houses for our monthly meetings, and we do have wine and snacks. We try to hold one special meeting a year, when dine out or have a potluck based on the book (The Recipe Club, for instance), or we take a trip.  To commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the club, we took a trip to Savannah, Georgia in May 2008. We read Paula Deen’s memoir that month and had a lovely time. We rented a beautiful, historic home, and visited Paula Deen’s restaurant and her brother, Bubba’s, too.” – Kim Higgins

What’s your favorite book you’ve read together and why?

Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett is a club favorite; but personally, Still Alice by Lisa Genova proved very poignant for me this year. Having a father suffering from Alzheimer’s, this book, while fiction, was a thought-provoking and truly insightful look into this cruel disease.” – Laura Stephenson

Everyone’s super busy these days. Why is it important to you to make time to read and then get together?

“My family knows that the last Wednesday of the month is book club and for me to miss it, there must be a very important excuse.  The fellowship of this wonderful group of women means a lot to me, but also we like to refer to it as a mom council.  Several women have older children, and they became  the younger members’ mentors when we had parenting questions.  Plus I know that any time I need something or someone, I can call any of these gals and she would be right there.  I consider them not only good friends but sisters.” – Jerrianne Bonenberger

“We have such a connection with each other in so many different ways. Some of us only see each other at book club. Others see each other frequently. Many of us have children who went to school together. Some of us go to church together. Each month is a time for us to discuss the joys of reading and our favorite books, but also a chance to connect personally and discuss what is going on in our personal lives and with our families.” – Kim Higgins


On Reading and Writing: A Q&A with Author Haley Tanner

March 9, 2012 at 11:04 am , by

Have you picked up this month’s book club pick, Vaclav & Lena? It’s a touching love story (Aren’t you a sucker for a good love story? We are!), by Haley Tanner. We have a penchant for reading literature here at LHJ, so I was eager to chat with this young debut novelist about her writing process and the books she’s curled up with recently. Read on for the inside scoop, and check out a preview to Vaclav & Lena and the rest of the LHJ Book Club bookshelf on our books page.

What have you read recently and loved?

I just read The Adults, by Alison Espach, which was amazing. It’s a coming-of-age story about a girl growing up in Connecticut, and it’s full of dramatic tension. There’s some really heavy, serious subject matter, but it’s also laugh-out-loud funny.

Do you find it hard to read other stories while you are writing?

I do get to a point where I can’t read other writing, because I start to sound like JD Salinger or Muriel Spark. But sometimes I’ll intentionally read other writers while I’m writing. If, say, I feel like my setting is falling flat, I’ll read someone who’s really good with setting. Or if I feel like I’m forgetting to have fun, I’ll read Tom Robbins for a little while. It’s like a prescription.

Where did the germ of the idea for Vaclav & Lena originate? Did you always have the story in the back of your mind?

I was writing an assignment for a class, procrastinating at midnight. I had class the next day, and I’d written nothing. I finally just sat down and I started writing, and the first thing I wrote is still the first page of the book, Vaclav’s introduction to his magic act. Once I had the characters, I watched what they would do. It was incredibly fun, and I never had a larger plan for them. Even when I was on page 45, I didn’t know what page 46 would look like.

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Book Club Wrap-up: The Revenge of The Radioactive Lady

February 14, 2012 at 7:13 pm , by

Last month, we pored over kooky characters, relished dark humor, and were shocked by a surprise ending (you’ll flip for it!) reading The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady. We hope you got the chance to spend time with Elizabeth Stuckey-French’s addicting novel, and if you haven’t picked it up, we know her letter to readers will whet your appetite. And then, since we’re sure your book club will want to adopt it as your next pick, we’ve got discussion questions and an exclusive Q&A with the author as well.

But now, with the beautiful new LHJ on newsstands everywhere, it’s time to introduce our next pick! This month we’ll be digging into Vaclav & Lena, by debut novelist Haley Tanner. It’s love story–you’ll swoon over every page–that has quite the magical theme. We’re also happy to announce a terrific giveaway! Throughout the month, you can enter to win one of five LHJ Book Club libraries—all of our picks so far, signed by the authors! Visit our book club page to enter, and to learn more about Vaclav & Lena! And, as always, stay with us on Facebook, Twitter, and right here on our blog to join the conversation as we chat about the book all month long.

But first, tell us what you thought of The Revenge of The Radioactive Lady! Comment here or tweet us at @LHJMagazine with the hashtag #lhjbookclub.

Steal This Book! (From Your Daughter)

December 22, 2011 at 11:03 am , by

Maybe it started when you read to your kids from their Harry Potter books before bed—and caught yourself reading ahead long after they were asleep. Or maybe you swoon when you hear the name Edward Cullen (no shame in that!). Or maybe you’re more excited for the upcoming Hunger Games movie than your Katniss-loving teenager. In short, young adult books aren’t just for young adults anymore.

We asked our friends at Figment, an online community that lets teens and young adults create, discover and share their own original fiction, to recommend 10 books to snag from your teen’s bookshelf and dive into together—or  separately.

 1.       Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler If your daughter liked Handler’s Series of Unfortunate Events (written under pen name Lemony Snicket) this more grown-up offering—an artsy, intellectual, bittersweet take on teenage heartbreak—is sure to please you both.

2.       How to Save A Life by Sara Zarr When a pregnant teen and a mourning mother-daughter pair collide, they find healing in unexpected ways.

3.       Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos This is a fun read. It’s an unexpected mix of the absolutely true (there are pieces of autobiography scattered throughout) and the absolutely ludicrous, and a great family commentary that’s smart and hilarious enough to appeal to both you and your daughter.

4.       Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally If your daughter’s the type of girl who refuses to be relegated to one of the over-simplified, mutually exclusive roles of “girly-girl” or “tomboy,” she’ll love this novel about teenage Jordan Woods, captain and quarterback of her high school’s football team. Also recommended for anyone mourning Friday Night Lights.

5.       You Are My Only by Beth Kephart A little creepy and a lot moving. Told from the alternating perspectives of a mother and her kidnapped daughter, You Are My Only is a story of family, love and finding oneself.

6.       Cleopatra’s Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter If you’re enjoying Stacy Schiff’s Cleopatra in your own book club, this fictional take on one of history’s most fascinating women will make a nice diversion to share with your daughter.

7.       When She Woke by Hillary Jordan A much more fun version of Hawthorne’s classic, The Scarlet Letter—and a fantastic opener for a discussion of reproductive rights with your daughter.

8.       Chime by Franny Billingsley A National Book Award finalist and a beautifully written mystery, this novel about a guilt-ridden teenage witch is especially good for fans of fantasy.

9.       The Fault in Our Stars by John Green NYT bestselling author Green offers a poignant tale of living while dying—meaningful YA fare to share with a teen you love.

10.   Beauty Queens by Libba Bray For any mom worried about the media’s effect on her daughter’s body image—and for any daughter tired of lectures about “realistic standards of beauty”—this is a scathing, laugh-out-loud read.

Book News: 9/11 Tenth Anniversary

September 9, 2011 at 9:52 am , by

It feels impossible that ten years have passed since 9/11. It was a day of great sorrow, but it also spurred countless stories begging to be told, and within several anniversary books that are fresh on shelves this month, many will be. These books are breathtaking retellings of that fateful day, stories of survival and resilience, and memorials to loved ones (and the world as we knew it) lost. They’re sure to give you chills, but are powerful, can’t-put-down reads.
911TheWorldSpeaks 9/11: The World Speaks, by Tribute WTC Visitor Center
People from over 120 countries have left comment cards at the Tribute WTC Visitor Center with notes, poems and sketches expressing their grief, sympathy and hope not only for the US, but for peace everywhere.
Unmeasured Strength[1] Unmeasured Strength, by Lauren Manning (also available in audio, read by the author)
Lauren Manning was on her way up to work in Tower One when a fireball exploded from an elevator bank, badly burning more than 80% of her body. Her memoir recounts Manning’s amazing, determined recovery and how she transformed her life in the wake of tragedy.
legacyletters The Legacy Letters, collected by Tuesday’s Children and edited by Brian Curtis
Tuesday’s Children is a non-profit organization that supports children and families who lost loved ones on 9/11 with youth mentoring programs and other services. Their anthology of letters—by children, spouses, and other family members to their lost loved ones—is heart-breakingly poignant.

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LHJ Book Club: Q&A with Bitter in the Mouth Author, Monique Truong

August 13, 2011 at 5:08 pm , by

I spoke with Monique Truong about her childhood experiences in the south, the themes of friendship, family and secret keeping in Bitter in the Mouth (the inaugural LHJ Book Club pick!), and how she ended up weaving an intricate story around a girl who tastes words.

The novel’s protagonist, Linda Hammerick, feels like an outsider in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, a town you lived in as a child. How much of your own life mirrors Linda’s? Is the story autobiographical?

I sometimes joke that if life gives you a little town called Boiling Springs and you’re a writer, you’d be foolish not to write about it. There was a lot in my own experience that I thought was important for me to revisit as an adult, as a writer.

When my family came to Boiling Springs, it was the summer of 1975. I remember clearly going to school for the first time and realizing that something had happened—that my body had somehow transformed. I was born in Saigon and was growing up in Vietnam as a little girl, but the moment that I stepped into the elementary school in Boiling Springs, I was no longer just a little girl. All of a sudden there was a lot of interest in the color of my skin, the shape of my eyes, and the color of my hair. I felt like there was this disconnect between how I felt inside and the way I was being treated based on how people were seeing me.

So in creating Linda, I was trying to draw on the confusion that I had and tried to imagine a situation in which a character would feel disconnected from her own body and not understand what was going on—though not in exactly the same way as it happened to me.

I don’t have synesthesia and I don’t have the same sort of family background as Linda, though.

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A Shoppable Video Storybook from Ralph Lauren

August 19, 2010 at 3:47 pm , by

I love children’s books. Who doesn’t, right? Luckily my daughter, Sophia, and I tend to like some of the same themes: a little fashion (like Birdie’s Big Girl Shoes), great art (like Abuela), and imaginative kids (like Olivia). So, when I saw The RL Gang, A Fantastically Amazing School Adventure, I know she’d be as smitten as I was.

But The RL Gang is no ordinary book, it’s a completely shoppable video storybook featuring Ralph Lauren childrenswear. It’s a treat for the eyes (thanks to live action kids—adorably dressed, of course—against an animated background) and the ears (it’s narrated by Harry Connick, Jr. who my singing, piano-playing family just loves). It begins: “This is the story of a not so ordinary group of children who came to school and had a not so ordinary day.” The children go on an adventure thanks to “an incredibly incredible book” brought by their teacher, Professor Randolph Lattimer.

And here’s the bonus, after you enjoy the great fantasy story (and I’m sure you will), you can click to buy any of the kids’ clothing featured in the book. (I’m thinking about Zoe’s purple dress for my girls.) Love it so much you want a hard copy? No problem. You can order one here. Enjoy the story!