Book Reveal: Circling the Sun

The first book option for our November “Cozy Comforts” box is Circling the Sun by Paula McLain.

Brought to Kenya from England as a child and then abandoned by her mother, Beryl is raised by both her father and the native Kipsigis tribe who share his estate. Her unconventional upbringing transforms Beryl into a bold young woman with a fierce love of all things wild and an inherent understanding of nature’s delicate balance. But even the wild child must grow up, and when everything Beryl knows and trusts dissolves, she is catapulted into a string of disastrous relationships.

Beryl forges her own path as a horse trainer, and her uncommon style attracts the eye of the Happy Valley set, a decadent, bohemian community of European expats who also live and love by their own set of rules. But it’s the ruggedly charismatic Denys Finch Hatton who ultimately helps Beryl navigate the uncharted territory of her own heart. The intensity of their love reveals Beryl’s truest self and her fate: to fly.

Set against the majestic landscape of early-twentieth-century Africa, McLain’s powerful tale reveals the extraordinary adventures of a woman before her time, the exhilaration of freedom and its cost, and the tenacity of the human spirit.

Book Reveal: The Bookshop on the Corner

The second book option for our November “Cozy Comforts” box is The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan.

Nina is a literary matchmaker. Pairing a reader with that perfect book is her passion… and also her job. Or at least it was. Until yesterday, she was a librarian in the hectic city. But now the job she loved is no more.

Determined to make a new life for herself, Nina moves to a sleepy village many miles away. There she buys a van and transforms it into a bookmobile — a mobile bookshop that she drives from neighborhood to neighborhood, changing one life after another with the power of storytelling.

From helping her grumpy landlord deliver a lamb, to sharing picnics with a charming train conductor who serenades her with poetry, Nina discovers there’s plenty of adventure, magic, and soul in a place that’s beginning to feel like home… a place where she just might be able to write her own happy ending.

Book Club Discussion: The Hopefuls

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close. Below is a list of discussion questions to get the conversation started. We are excited to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Feel free to answer all the questions, or pick and choose a few questions to discuss!

  • Who are the “hopefuls” in the title?
  • In the Washington, DC, of the novel, most people are from elsewhere—away from home and family. How does this contribute to the intensity of their relationships?
  • As a spouse who’s not particularly interested in politics, Beth feels like an outsider. What should she have done to find her own tribe—or does that seem impossible in the atmosphere the novel describes?
  • The theme of friendship also weaves through the story. Is Beth a good friend? Who is a better friend to her, Ash or Colleen?
  • On page 248, Colleen tells Beth, “ ‘I mean, every person expects something from the other one when they get married.’ ” What point is she making? Do you agree?
  • Discuss the final section of the novel, the postscript set in DC. Was it the ending you expected?

Questions from publisher’s website.

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Book Club Discussion: Big Magic

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Below is a list of discussion questions to get the conversation started. We are excited to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Feel free to answer all the questions, or pick and choose a few questions to discuss!

  • Can you think of a time you were courageous in your creative life? What did that look like for you? How did you feel? What inspired you to be courageous?
  • What do you think your daemon of creativity would look like? Grab some pen and paper and draw away!
  • Who, in your heart of hearts, are you? Who have you always secretly wanted to be? How does it feel to say it outloud?
  • Write down four fiercely creative goals and hang them up on your fridge!

Questions from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic Inspiration Guide. 

 

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Book Reveal: Delicious!

Delicious! by Ruth Reichl

Ruth Reichl is a born storyteller. Through her restaurant reviews, where she celebrated the pleasures of a well-made meal, and her bestselling memoirs that address our universal feelings of love and loss, Reichl has achieved a special place in the hearts of hundreds of thousands of readers. Now, with this magical debut novel, she has created a sumptuous, wholly realized world that will enchant you.

Billie Breslin has traveled far from her home in California to take a job at Delicious!, New York’s most iconic food magazine. Away from her family, particularly her older sister, Genie, Billie feels like a fish out of water—until she is welcomed by the magazine’s colorful staff. She is also seduced by the vibrant downtown food scene, especially by Fontanari’s, the famous Italian food shop where she works on weekends. Then Delicious! is abruptly shut down, but Billie agrees to stay on in the empty office, maintaining the hotline for reader complaints in order to pay her bills.

To Billie’s surprise, the lonely job becomes the portal to a miraculous discovery. In a hidden room in the magazine’s library, Billie finds a cache of letters written during World War II by Lulu Swan, a plucky twelve-year-old, to the legendary chef James Beard. Lulu’s letters provide Billie with a richer understanding of history, and a feeling of deep connection to the young writer whose courage in the face of hardship inspires Billie to comes to terms with her fears, her big sister and her ability to open her heart to love.

Book Reveal: The Simplicity of Cider

The Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. Reichert

Fall in love with The Simplicity of Cider, the charming new novel about a prickly but gifted cider-maker whose quiet life is interrupted by the arrival of a handsome man and his young son at her family’s careworn orchard by the author of The Coincidence of Coconut Cake and Luck, Love & Lemon Pie.

Focused and unassuming fifth generation cider-maker Sanna Lund has one desire: to live a simple, quiet life on her family’s apple orchard in Door County, Wisconsin. Although her business is struggling, Sanna remains fiercely devoted to the orchard, despite her brother’s attempts to convince their aging father to sell the land.

Single dad Isaac Banks has spent years trying to shield his son Sebastian from his troubled mother. Fleeing heartbreak at home, Isaac packed up their lives and the two headed out on an adventure, driving across the country. Chance—or fate—led them straight to Sanna’s orchard.

Isaac’s helping hands are much appreciated at the apple farm, even more when Sanna’s father is injured in an accident. As Sanna’s formerly simple life becomes increasingly complicated, she finds solace in unexpected places—friendship with young Sebastian and something more deliciously complex with Isaac—until an outside threat infiltrates the farm

Book Club Discussion: The Nightingale

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. Below is a list of discussion questions to get the conversation started. We are excited to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Feel free to answer all the questions, or pick and choose a few questions to discuss!

  • How does war change the way these characters love? How does love influence their actions in the war? On a personal level, has love affected your life choices? Have those choices affected who and how you love?
  • Why do you think Kristin Hannah chose to keep the narrator’s identity a secret in the beginning and end of the novel? Were you surprised by who it turned out to be? Did you go back and reread the beginning of the novel once you finished? Were you satisfied when you discovered who was narrating the novel?
  • The sisters Isabelle and Vianne respond to the war in very different ways. Isabelle reacts with anger and defiance, risking her life to join the resistance against Nazi occupation. Vianne proceeds with caution and fear, avoiding conflicts for the sake of her children. Who do you admire—or relate to, or sympathize with—more, Vianne or Isabelle? Discuss your reasons.  
  • Take a moment to talk about Beck. Is he a sympathetic character? Did you believe he was a good man, or was he just trying to seduce Vianne. Did he deserve his fate?

Questions from author’s website.

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Book Club Discussion: Lilac Girls

Welcome to the Book Club discussion for Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly. Below is a list of discussion questions to get the conversation started. We are excited to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Feel free to answer all the questions, or pick and choose a few questions to discuss!

  • In what ways do you think the alternating points of view helped to enrich the narrative? Was there ever a time you when you wished there was only one narrator? Why or why not?
  • The primary settings of this novel are starkly different – Caroline’s glamorous New York world of benefits and cultural events, and the bleak reality of life in a concentration camp. In what ways did the contrast between these two settings affect your reading experience?
  • Caroline’s relationship with Paul is complicated, taboo even, was there ever a time when you didn’t agree with a choice Caroline made with regards to Paul? When and why?
  • Many of the themes explored in Lilac Girls – human rights, political resistance, survival – are a direct result of the historical WWII setting. How are those themes relevant to current events today?

Questions from author’s website.

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Book Reveal: The Hopefuls

The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close

A New York newlywed, Beth was supportive when her husband, Matt, decided to follow his political dreams all the way to Washington. Yet soon after they move to D.C., Beth realizes that she hates everything about it: the traffic circles, the ubiquitous Ann Taylor suits, the humidity that descends each summer, and, most of all, the lonely dinner parties where anyone who doesn’t work in politics is politely ignored. Things start to change when the couple meets a charismatic White House staffer named Jimmy and his wife, Ashleigh. The four become inseparable, coordinating brunches, birthdays, and long weekends away. But as Jimmy’s star rises higher and higher, the couples’ friendship—and Beth’s relationship with Matt—is threatened by jealousy, competition, and rumors.

Book Reveal: Big Magic

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.