Barbara's picture

Have You Be Fooled? Booking Through Thursday

Booking Through ThursdayQuestions today from Booking Through Thursday

Since it’s April Fool’s Day, I toyed with different ideas of questions for today.

  1. Who’s your favorite “fool” of a character, and why?
  2. What authors have fooled you? By a trick plot twist? By making you think their book was any good when it wasn’t?
  3. What covers have fooled you into reading books you hated … even though the covers were wonderful?
  4. What’s the best April Fool’s Day trick you’ve ever seen/heard about/done?

Ultimately, I couldn’t pick … so choose the one you like best. Or answer all of them! Or make up your own.


Some books that have twist at the end that I enjoyed are Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane, The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian, and The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell. Usually, I'm good on figuring things out and picking up clues but I was flabbergasting at these!

The movie The Sixth Sense was a totally shock and I loved it!

Any answers to BTT's questions? Happy April Fool's Day!  

Barbara's picture

Teaser Tuesday 3/30 The Hand That First Held Mine

Happy Teaser Tuesday!  

teaser tuesdayTeaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

  1. Grab your current read
  2. Open to a random page
  3. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
    BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  4. Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

hand that first held mine"Listen. The trees in this story are stirring, trembling, readjusting themselves. A breeze is coming in gusts off the sea and it is almost as if the trees know, in their restlessness, in their head-tossing impatience, that something is about to happen." -- The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O'Farrell (April 12, 2010)

just finished this! loved it! This is the first paragraph. And, what an awesome cover! I read an advance uncorrected proof so there wasn't a cover just white manuscript paper.

Anyone can play! What do you have, today?

Barbara's picture

Mary Sharratt Talks Book Groups

I'm excited to welcome Mary Sharratt, author of Daughters of the Witching Hill, to On the Bookcase! In her fourth novel, Mary explores motherhood, history, woman’s place in society, class, poverty. The Publishers Weekly starred review reports Mary novel is "uplifting in its portrayal of women who persevere, and mothers and daughters who forgive.” Perfect topics for reading groups!

Today, Mary chats about book groups, passion for literature, writers and readers!

Why Book Groups Matter

We live in an age of increasing apathy to books and the written word. People are so busy, so distracted, and attention spans are running short.

But reading groups shine through this fog like a beacon. In these troubled times, they are true champions of literature and literacy. Book clubs don’t just discuss books—they inspire a genuine passion for reading.

Alas, I must hang my head in shame and confess that I am not the book group maven I long to be. Mostly geography gets in my way. An American expat, I live in the beautiful Pendle region of Lancashire in Northern England. This wild brooding landscape inspired my new novel, Daughters of the Witching Hill, which draws on the true story of a family caught up in the Pendle Witch Hunt of 1612.

The downside of being so close to nature and such dramatic history is that I live like a hermit in this rural area. On an average day I see more sheep and horses than people. Most of my audience is in North America, an ocean away, which makes even speaker phone visits to book groups a challenge. 

Still I yearn to make that connection to readers however I can. For a hermit like me, going on book tour—both a traditional city to city tour and a virtual blog tour—is essential. I simply have to connect with my readers, face to face or online. A writer is not a writer without her readers.

Readers are the reason we write, the reason we get up in the morning and sit for hours in front of our computer screen.

For the publication of Daughters of the Witching Hill, even I, the hermit, am getting into action. I have just returned from the Virginia Festival of the Book where I had the good fortune to join Barbara Drummond Mead’s panel, Reading Group Choices: Great Discussable Books. It was such an honour to share the podium with such stellar authors as Laura Brodie, Sheila Curran, and Masha Hamilton. Barbara was the perfect moderator, her passion for books setting the stage for a great discussion. Our audience was amazing and utterly attentive. I think we spent at least twenty minutes chatting with people and signing books after the panel had finished.

In April I’ll be heading off to Gunflint Lodge in Northern Minnesota for the Books in the Woods reading retreat, one of the few places where one can be a secluded hermit and a book group maven at the same time. At Books in the Woods, I’ll be leading a discussion on Louise Erdrich’s masterpiece, The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse. As a writer, you learn a great deal about your craft from discussing the work of master writers such as Erdrich.

An astute author can learn as much from book groups as from professional editors and critics. My good friend, the brilliant novelist Sandra Gulland, gives a draft of her latest novel to her book group and lets them rip it apart for her so that she can learn from their insights before she puts in the final revisions.

While I don’t have a home circle book group to critique my drafts as Sandra does, I can say that for me, the writing process does not come full circle until I have that dialogue with my readers and listen to their experience of reading my novel. Only when this happens do I feel my book has “hit home.”

Once, at a reading in Saint Paul, Minnesota, a woman presented me with an exquisite piece of origami work and invited me to unfold the sumptuous crimson paper. This creation was an invitation to join their book group discussion of my first novel, Summit Avenue. The origami artist had taken such care, using quotes from my novel, and designing the piece so that it opened like a heart. Reader feedback rarely gets better than this.

Please visit her website  

Mary is a Reading Group Choices Alumna -- appearing on two Reading Group Choices VABOOK panels. The recent one two weeks ago and one in 2008 with her novel, The Vanishing Point! I hope Mary will come back soon to VABOOK with her new novel -- right now a work in progress, Know the Ways. This historical fiction is based on Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), Benedictine abbess and polymath who was born in an age of deep-seated misogyny and offered by her parents as a tithe to the church at the age of seven, triumphed to become the greatest voice of her age.

Go Mary and Go Hildegard -- can't wait!

Barbara's picture

Breaking a Book to Read Another

Booking through Thursday


Question of the Day.

Do you take breaks while reading a book? Or read it straight through? (And, by breaks, I don’t mean sleeping, eating and going to work; I mean putting it aside for a time while you read something else.)

Yes, I do all the time. Reading is my passion but always my business. So I need to read material that comes across my desk, sometimes very fast to get the feel and style of the book. Though, on vacation, I can read and feel the journey of a book one lovely period at a time. Heaven!

Do you take breaks?

Barbara's picture

Teaser Tuesday 3/23 A Friend is Someone Who Likes You

Teaser Tuesdays (Hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading) is here again.

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
    BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

A FriendToday, my teaser is from one of my favorite children's book. 

A friend is someone who likes you. It can be a boy ... it can be a girl ... or a cat ... or a dog ... or even a white mouse. A tree can be a different kind of friend. It doesn't talk to you, but you know it likes you, because it gives you apples ... or pears .... or cherries ... or, sometimes, a place to swing. -- A Friend is Someone Who Likes You by Joan Walsh Anglund

I love this book and it always lifts me up.

Two questions today -- What is your TT today and what book cheers you up? 

Barbara's picture

VABOOK 2010 Awesome Reading Group Panel

I'm home from the whirlwind of the Virginia Festival of the Book (VABOOK). What an exciting and fun time! I met so many authors, reading group members, book bloggers. people working in the book business and loving it! What a great weekend. Here is my post on the awesome panel I have the pleasure of moderating. More VABOOK posts later -- maybe some author posts!!

Thursday night, I invited my reading group choices panelists to dinner to talk about the panel on Friday and to get acquainted with each other. Masha Hamilton (31 Hours), Sheila Curran (Everyone She Loved), Mary Sharratt (Daughters of the Witching Hill), and Laura Brodie (The Widow's Season)chatted the evening away. I was happy that they got along so well. Masha, Sheila, and Mary are alumni of the reading group choices panels from previous years. Laura fit right in! 

The panel was great (I thought!) I counted over 75 attendees. Each writer summarized their books, read a little, and made reference to ideas and themes in their work that reading groups could engage in their discussion. Here is a brief summary of the panelists' ideas and thoughts from and of their books.

Masha's 31 Hours ideas include spirituality, isolation, disconnection, motherhood, terrorism. Discussion points, such as, should we give moral guideleines -- attend a formalized church when kids are young to help ground them in some sense of right and wrong? Or, let them find answers on the own?   

Friends, family, death, grief, control, hope, love are centered in Shelia's Everyone She Loved. One main question the book asks is "If we could, we would control our kids' lives, after we are dead, in order to protect them?" 

History doesn't give the whole story, usually. Do we every hear the voices and feelings of those involved? In Daughters of the Witching Hill, Mary embodies the women accused of witchcraft in 1612 and lets them tell their story. Mary pointed to many great converstion starters: history, social issues, class system, womens' lives in that period, motherhood, forgiveness, and womens' bonds in terrible times.

Laura spoke on her dissertation on widows in literature as the inspiration for The Widow's Season. Ghosts, widows, hope, the aftermath and psychology of grief,  and the enduring cycle of life are great discussion topics for reading groups.

I had an excellent time -- they were a thrill to moderate. These authors and their books are awesome! Bring them to your next book club meeting and select them for your reading list.

Barbara's picture

Laura Brodie, The Widow's Season @VABOOK March 19

The Widow's SeasonLaura Brodie's debut novel, The Widow's Season, was inspired by her UVA dissertation on widows in English literature. The first line in The Widow’s Season is “Sarah McConnell's husband had been dead for three months when she saw him in the grocery store.” Is the apparition a natural reaction to grief or something else? The review in Publisher Weekly states “Brodie expertly walks the line between reality and fantasy, life and death, heartache and love, leaving readers hoping for the best and prepared for the worst -- without ever really knowing the truth -- until the final five pages.”

Laura, along with Masha Hamilton (31 Hours), Mary Sharratt (Daughters of the Witching Hill), and Sheila Curran (Everyone She Loved) will be on the reading group panel moderated by ME on Friday, March 19, 12 noon at VABOOK in Charlottesville. These women are loads of fun and they will  discuss their books with the book club audience.   

Barbara's picture

Teaser Tuesday 3/16 The Journal Keeper

teaser tuesdayTeaser Tuesdays (Hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading) is here again.

  1. Grab your current rea
  2. Open to a random page
    Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
    BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  3. Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! 

Journal Keeper"What I realized from being with all those writers in Charlottesville was that I was with people who use their imagination as easily and unself-consciously as other people use a towel. That was the thrill: to go to different authors' readings and listen as men became women and women became men and writers got inside the hundred-year-old heads of Alamo survivors. This is no different from acting, and I wonder if I can take some new steps on a new stage. In many ways, I have taken no risks and made no changes for a long time, if ever. This is no way to live." -- p. 17 The Journal Keeper, A Memoir by Phyllis Theroux


Very odd that I started reading this book yesterday. Ms Theroux is writing about the Virginia Festival of the Book (VABOOK) held each year in March. On Friday, I am moderating a reading group panel at VABOOK. And, Phyllis Theroux will be at VABOOK this year on another panel! DoDo-DoDo! Very spooky. I must attend her panel.  

Here's a video of Phyllis on the hunt for the perfect book cover photo! excellent!



What's your TT, today? 


Barbara's picture

Sheila Curran, Everyone She Loved, VABOOK! March 19

Sheila Curran chats about her new novel, Everyone She Loved, this week on the Virginia Festival of the Book! With Laura Brodie (The Widow's Season), Masha Hamilton (31 Hours), and Mary Sharratt (Daughters of the Witching Hour), Sheila will appear at the reading group panel on Friday, March 19, 12 Noon, The Southern Cafe and Music Hall in Charlottesville. COME ON DOWN!

Everyone She LovedIn Everyone She Loved, Penelope Cameron has convinced her husband and four closest friends to sign an outlandish pact. If she should die before her two daughters are eighteen, her husband will not remarry without the permission of Penelope’s sister and three college roommates. For years, this contract gathers dust until the unthinkable happens—a disaster that only lovable, worrisome Penelope could have predicted—and everyone she loved is left in a world without her.

Entertaining and uplifting, Everyone She Loved explores the faith one woman placed in those she held dearest, the care she took to protect her family, the many ways in which romantic entanglements will confound and confuse even the most determined of planners, but above all, the abiding strength of friendship. Perfect conversation for reading groups!

Barbara's picture

Masha Hamilton Virginia Festival of the Book, March 19

Masha Hamilton will be chatting about her book, 31 Hours, on March 19 at the Virginia Festival of the Book. (Details below) 

31 HOURS31 Hours tells the story of a young man pondering his new faith and his special mission. Over the next 31 hours, he prepares for the violent action he means to do when the subways are the most crowed. This is also the story about his family and friends knowing something is wrong with him. But it can't be that bad, can it? The novel reveals the isolation of a man and the helplessness and frantic hope of somehow reaching him before it is too late.  

NO SPOILERS!! excellent book with great themes for reading groups -- motherhood, love, family, disconnection and isolation, spirituality, fanaticism, divorce, parenting.

Panelists with Masha Hamilton: Laura Brodie (The Widow's Season), Shelia Curran (Everyone She Loved), Mary Sharratt (Daughters of the Witching Hill)


March 19, Friday 12 Noon
The Southern Cafe and Music Hall
103 S. First Street, Charlottesville

Here's Masha talking about 31 Hours



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