Authors Wanted!

Bay Area Book Club is a about a group of women getting together to discuss good books.  We have had the privilege of meeting authors in person and via Skype.  Each month, we read a book that has been chosen as our Book of the Month.  It is quite exciting because I’ve been exposed to authors and books I may not have chosen otherwise.  The authors we spoke with last year were: Isabel Wolff, Kathleen Kent, Rachel Brady, Melanie Benjamin, Robert Norris, Pamela Macphee,  and Claire Avery.

Our book club loves to talk with authors and discuss their inspiration for creating their storyline.  It’s always fascinating to hear how a character is developed and some of the history behind each character and plot.  We have found that talking with the author in person just adds more to the discussion, as opposed to visiting with authors via Skype.

Meeting with book clubs has become quite popular for authors because they are able to connect with their readers in a more personal way than on FB, Twitter, and blogging.  When we host an author, the book club not only attends to meet and take pictures, but to discuss their book.  While it may not be our Book of the Month (since we vote on those), we all do read the author’s latest book.  We love reading, so it makes perfect sense to read the book our guest has written! And…no, we do not expect to read the author’s book for free.  So, we are also contributing to book sales ;)

If you are an author and plan to be visiting the Houston, Texas area in 2012, Bay Area Book Club would love to read your book and host you!  You can email me or fill out the form below.

My email is: booksintheburbs(at)gmail(dot)com.

I look forward to hearing from you!  And, on behalf of Bay Area Book Club, thank-you!!

Book Giveaway: The Book Club Cookbook by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp

I have some exciting news!! 

Authors, Judy Gelman and Vicki Levvy Krupp, are giving 1 winner a copy of their latest book!

To read my post, please click here:  Review: The Book Club Cookbook by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp

This is absolutely exciting and I know that it will be a book that will be treasured and used quite often!

Giveaway Details:

Simply fill out the form below.

Everyone that fills out the form will receive 1 entry by listing your name and email.

To earn more than 1 entry, simply check the corresponding boxes and follow/like the pages listed.

Based on the number of checked boxes, you will receive that many extra entries in the drawing.

One winner will be selected using

The winner will receive their free book from the authors.

 If the winner does not respond to the email sent to them, another winner will be selected.

This Giveaway ends May 19, 2012.

  I am absolutely excited to share this wonderful book with you!  As you know, my book: Bay Area Book Club, was included this book.

Review: The Book Club Cookbook by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp

Product Details

  • Reading level: Ages 18 and up
  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Tarcher; 2 Rev Upd edition (March 1, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 1585429244
  • Click to Purchase  (regularly $21.95, on sale for $13.98)


Whether it’s Roman Punch for The Age of Innocence, or Sabzi Challow (spinach and rice) with Lamb for The Kite Runner, or Swedish Meatballs and Glögg for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, nothing spices up a book club meeting like great eats. Featuring recipes and discussion ideas from bestselling authors and book clubs across the country, this fully revised and updated edition of the classic book guides readers in selecting and preparing culinary masterpieces that blend perfectly with the literary masterpieces their club is reading. This edition features new contributions from a host of today’s bestselling authors including:

  • Kathryn Stockett, The Help (Demetrie’s Chocolate Pie and Caramel Cake)
  • Sara Gruen, Water for Elephants (Oyster Brie Soup)
  • Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper (Brian Fitzgerald’s Firehouse Marinara Sauce)
  • Abraham Verghese, Cutting for Stone (Almaz’s Ethiopian Doro Wot and Sister Mary Joseph Praise’s Cari de Dal)
  • Annie Barrows, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Annie Barrows’s Potato Peel Pie and Non-Occupied Potato Peel Pie)
  • Lisa See, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (Lisa See’s Deep-Fried Sugared Taro)

The Book Club Cookbook will add real flavor to your book club meetings!

My Review:

It is with great pride and privilege to introduce to you this book: The Book Club Cookbook by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp.  Bay Area Book Club (the book club I organize) is featured in this book, along with many other book clubs across the United States.  I was absolutely honored that author, Judy Gelman, reached out to my book club and wanted to know about the first book meet I organized.  The first book I ever organized was Little Bee by Chris Cleave, and there was quite a bit of discussion over this story.  Some of the questions we asked ourselves were, “what was the right thing at that moment?  In the end, would we have been an Andrew or a Sarah?” (p. 238).    Aside from the commentary I provided, both authors included a synopsis of Little Bee, a dish that was symbolic to the book (along with directions on how to bake it),  and some additional thoughts from a couple of other book clubs.

What I love about this book:

1.  This book is so easy to use!  Every book club organizer and hostess should own The Book Club Cookbook because of the variety of books and correlating dishes included within this cookbook.  The book not only includes a table of contents with each book title and menu item, but there is also a food index.  However, Judy and Vicki don’t stop there!  They also have included an index that includes the author and book title under subsections based by genre, themes, and winning titles (Nobel Prize, Booker Prize, etc).  This makes the book very user friendly and allows for quick glances, has delicious recipes that are easy to make (and I’m not a cook!), as well as great commentary from book clubs.

2. Great ideas for book club meetings! As a book club organizer, it gives me great ideas for book titles to suggest at book meets, menu items to make and/or themed restaurants we can attend (as I am not creative!), and I love reading what other book clubs are doing to keep their meetings fresh, entertaining, and exciting!

3.  Large variety of book titles:  There are book titles for every book club to enjoy.  It is not limited to those who only like chick-lit and contemporary literature.  There are titles for those classic lovers, non-fiction, memoirs, and the list goes on!  There really is such a large variety of book titles that book readers alone will love having this as a guide for what to read next.

4.  Menu Items:  From appetizers, to drinks, to a full meal, there are menu items for any type of hostess.  Because I don’t like to cook, I tend to go for basic menu items that are easy to make and don’t take too much of time.  Well, there are plenty of those that really help keep me focused on what is most exciting: talking books!  However, don’t fret…there are menu items there for the baker in mind, too.

5.  Practical:  This is a cookbook designed for book clubs!!  I remember when I first joined Bay Area Book Club, it was the only book club in my area.  Now, there are so many book clubs in my area with specific tastes and members.  I love that there are so many people using their free time to READ.  When I first took over as Organizer, I really didn’t know what books to choose, how to choose, what to cook, where to meet, etc.  This book would have been invaluable for those starting a book club, for those wanting to re-energize their group, and for those who simply want to have a list of books that were recommended and read by other book clubs.  I love this book and know you will, too!

Normally, I love to read books on my Nook.  However this is not a book that you will want to download.  It is just too beautiful and is a book that you will want to have an actual copy of.

Click to Purchase  (regularly $21.95, on sale for $13.98)

Bay Area Book Club-A Year in Review

Wow, it is hard to believe we already had our last book meet of the year!!  We had a discussion about 2 very different books: The Mistress’s Revenge and Bleeding Kansas.  We also took part in a book drive for R.E.A.D. for Houston, a wonderful organization that distributes books to local shelter, schools, and communities where the need for books is great.  Lastly, we had an ornament exchange, that was a blast!!!   It’s been an incredible year and we are all so excited for the new opportunities and book discussions we will have in 2012!

Some highlights of our year:

  • Our group has been in existence for about 7 years.  It started with a membership of 3 and has expanded to a current total of 30.
  • We had the plesasure of meeting authors via skype:  A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff, Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin, Hidden Wives by Claire Avery, Delivering Hope by Pamela McAffee, and The Wolves of Andover by Kathleen Kent
  •  Our group met with the authors in person:  Dead Lift by Rachel Brady and The Barrett Solution by Robert Norris
  • We attended a special movie premiere of The Help in June.
  • We have been invited to a premiere party for “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” movie’s release and are attending the movie screening. 
  • We now have a Facebook presence that is open only to our members, where we continue the conversations long after our book meet has ended.
  • We have done some social outings as well, like The Painted Potter and Painting With A Twist.
  • We also developed a better format to submitting book titles, which we vote on as a group for our Books of the  Month.
  • Bay Area Book Club is receiving honorable mention in a book, to be released in March, 2012: Book Club Cookbook, 2nd edition.

The Help Starts Today!


The Help was such a  great movie!  Bay Area Book Club saw this as an early movie screening, courtesy of Moroch’s publicity/promotions department.  We laughed, cried, and cheered watching this movie.

There were lots of invitees to this event!  We were one of 2 book clubs that were invited that evening.

Our names were on the invitation list and each invitee was given a bracelet to have access to the theater.  We couldn’t have our phones or camera visible during the screening.  While there are scenes not included from The Help, it was still a wonderful film!  I loved Sissy Spacek’s role!  Even though it was a minor role, she was awesome!

Here is the trailer to the movie:

It’s a must see movie…if you loved the book, go see the movie!  If you haven’t read the book, after you watch the movie you will certainly want to read the book afterwards.

Free books are always nice!

Look what showed up in my mailbox on Monday!

Bay Area Book club was given 5 free books from Simon & Schuster.  Our group will be discussing the book on Saturday, November 12.  However, next week, some of our members will be receiving one of these books :)

We cannot wait to read and discuss this book, as it has been likened to the movie, “Fatal Attraction”…and who can ever forget about the bunny??

Bay Area Book Club: Books of the Month


Grisham’s first work of nonfiction focuses on the tragedy of Ron Williamson, a baseball hero from a small town in Oklahoma who winds up a dissolute, mentally unstable Major League washout railroaded onto death row for a hometown rape and murder he did not commit. Judging by this author-approved abridgment, Grisham has chosen to present Williamson’s painful story (and that of his equally innocent “co-conspirator,” Dennis Fritz) as straightforward journalism, eschewing the more familiar “nonfiction novel” approach with its reconstructed dialogues and other adjustments for dramatic purpose. This has resulted in a book that, while it includes such intriguing elements as murder, rape, detection and judicial injustice, consists primarily of objective reportage, albeit shaded by the now-proven fact of Williamson’s innocence. The absence of dialogue or character point of view could make for a rather bland audio. Boutsikaris avoids that by reverting to what might be called old-fashioned round-the-campfire storytelling, treating the lengthy exposition to vocal interpretations, subtle and substantial. He narrates the events leading up to the 1982 rape and murder of a young cocktail waitress with a mixture of suspicion and curiosity, moving on to astonishment at the prosecution’s use of deceit and false testimony to convict Williamson and Fritz and, eventually, elation at the exoneration of the two innocent men. Throughout, he maintains an appealing conversational tone, an effect made all the more remarkable by the book’s nearly total absence of conversation.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

My Thoughts:

Our book club selected this book as our August Book of the Month.  It is John Grisham’s first non-fiction book, and one that made the hairs on my arm stick up.  Reading about the brutal murder of a young woman was horrific…especially since it is a true story.  While this is an older book, our book club members have signed up to attend this book discussion, making it one of the larger book discussions we’ve had.  This is not my genre and I really don’t like reading books this creepy, however being the “good facilitator”, I had to read it.  I actually liked it, although it is not on my favorite reads.  John Grisham makes the facts so clear that is really difficult to understand how the wrong people would be convicted, while a dangerous person would be on the streets-free.  It certainly raises questions about the justice system, collecting evidence, treatment of the mentally ill, and how far people will go to corrupt the system.


September Book of the Month:


September Guest Author & Discussion:


October Book of the Month with Guest Authors- Claire Avery:


November Book Club of the Month, courtesy of Simon & Schuster:

Review: The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

Synopsis: A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures a remarkable period of time—Paris in the twenties—and an extraordinary love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley.

In Chicago in 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 and finds herself captivated by his good looks, intensity, and passionate desire to write. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group of expatriates that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.

But the hard-drinking and fast-living café life does not celebrate traditional notions of family and monogamy. As Hadley struggles with jealousy and self-doubt and Ernest wrestles with his burgeoning writing career, they must confront a deception that could prove the undoing of one of the great romances in literary history.

For more information on The Paris Wife, to learn some interesting tidbits, and view pictures, please visit Random House.

My Review:

Paula McLain not only describes the amazing relationship between Ernest Hemingway and Hadley Richardson, but she propels the reader back to the 1920’s in Paris.  The love story between Ernest and Hadley is so special and unique, that Paula McLain does not have to create much fiction in this book.  While we learn about their relationship, marriage, and parenting, we also witness the struggles Ernest has as a beginning writer and his relationship with other artists in Paris.  Through the friendships Hadley and Ernest establish with their friends in Paris, the reader gets a glimpse into the lives of  F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and even Pauline Pfeiffer (who later becomes Ernest’s second wife).

It was interesting to learn about Hadley’s childhood, her parents, and their low expectations of her.  Ernest’s own family history is quite intriguing and the similarities that both Ernest and Hadley have in their family of origin.  Their family background and commonalities gave them a much greater appreciation and understanding of one another, which Paula McLain beautifully illustrates in this book.  In the book, Paula shares the thoughts and writing Ernest creates, which become literary masterpieces, such as The Old Man and The Sea, The Sun Also Rises, and The Torrents of Spring.

Paula McLain’s writing truly captures the essence of this time period and gives the reader a more intimate glimpse into the early years of Ernest Hemingway as a writer and partner as well as a greater appreciation and love for Hadley.

After reading this book, I wanted to know more about who Ernest Hemingway was and read his books.  I just finished reading A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway.  It was interesting to read his point of view during the Paris years!

His life is fascinating and tragic, and Paula is able to capture this specific time period, where the reader sees Ernest in his purest and truest form as a writer, friend, and husband.  Most importantly, Paula gives Hadley a voice and shows that she was indeed Ernest’s greatest love and supporter.

I highly recommend this book!!

Below are some interesting sites for you to look at regarding Hemingway, his wives, and children.

The Hemingway Project

Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway Books

Hemingway Photos

An Interview with Valerie Hemingway

This Recording

Friends of the Fitzgeralds

A Tribute to Gregory Hemingway

John Hemingway (son of Gregory Hemingway)

John Hemingway, writes Strange Tribe: A Family Memoir

Hemingway: His Years

Hemingway Timeline

Hemingway-Pfeiffer Timeline

Some great pics:

Ernest and Hadley

Ernest and Hadley get married

Skiing with their son, Bumby

A Special Thank-you to Melanie Benjamin, author of Alice I Have Been

For my review of this book, please click here.

Author, Melanie Benjamin

Bay Area Book Club had the wonderful pleasure to not only discuss a great book, but also to talk with the Alice I Have Been author, Melanie Benjamin.  Many of us were in awe of the story behind Alice in Wonderland, and gained a deeper appreciation and understanding for Alice Liddell and Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll).  Granted, this book is fictionalized, however it still gave us a deeper understanding of the time period, societal rules and expectations, and how both Charles and Alice were impacted by the success of Alice in Wonderland.  Thank-you so much, Melanie for giving us your time for a wonderful evening!

Learning to Say No!

When I first made the decision to stay home so that I could be a full-time mom to my daughter, I didn’t realize that I would unconsciously take on more tasks (that were self-induced) to keep my mind busy.  Staying home is a true gift and I appreciate and value every day that I spend with my daughter.  However, I found myself needing “mommy time”.  So, I looked on and found a local book club in the area that I could join.

I absolutely loved the idea of meeting women and talking about books that we had just read.  Shortly after joining, our book club organizer decided it was time for her to step down and gave me the choice to become organizer or she could just close the group.  I have never been a part of a group of women where there is such a sense of sisterhood and joy.  I just couldn’t bear to see the group close, so I stepped up as organizer and on my way I went.

The book club naturally progressed to having causal outings, where we’ve attended movies, plays/musicals, gone shopping, painted, and even did ceramics together.  It has been so much fun and it has been so exciting to see friendships develop between members.  Now that the book club has grown, I realized I could not manage every area of the book club.  So, I created a leadership team, consisting of book members who graciously volunteer their time and help the book club continue to be personal, engaging, and fun.

Because I have been leisure reading more than I had ever read before (since I became a SAHM), I thought having a blog was just a natural progression for me a book club organizer and reader.  I wanted to write about books I had read, provide reviews, and interview authors so that readers could see the different sides to writing and learn more about the author.

I started my blog shortly after the new year, and was soon open to new and exciting adventures with books.  Through my blog, I have met incredible authors, read books I otherwise would not have read (and enjoyed!), and had opportunities to review books before their published date.  It has been an exciting journey…especially since I love to read!

With that, I have connected with various book sites for bloggers, where I can read books for free ( in exchange for a review) and have authors/publishers contact me directly requesting I read and review their book.  Well, who can turn that down???  Obviously, not me!!!  Being so excited to have these opportunities as a new blogger, I basically accepted every book to read and review (in the genres I prefer), found myself working against deadlines to publish reviews, and feeling pressured to blog regularly like other bloggers do.  I hadn’t mastered what other bloggers have learned to do: set boundaries and learn that it okay to say, “no, not now”.

Because I have a very understanding husband, he listened to me one night as I complained about everything I had to with my blog and reading.  Quietly he listened and then asked me the most basic question that I failed to ask myself, “why can’t you say no?”.  In my eagerness to read every free book available to me, meet authors who have been so generous with their time, and meet review deadlines for publishers, I forgot how to say, “no.”.  That simple word, two letters, a universal word that is understood by everyone….NO.

I realized that I have choices.  I can say no to reading every book presented to me, I do not have to write a blog entry for the sake of writing something, and I do not have to publish my reviews on every site known to man.

I remember a graduate professor once asking our class, “who are you?”.   And, today, I realize, I am a wife, mother, friend, and when I can, I love to read and write.  In that order.