Excerpt Good for Book Clubs

Pop Goes the Weasel: A Detective Helen Grace Thriller

The fog crept in from the sea, suffocating the city. It descended like an invading army, consuming landmarks, choking out the moonlight, rendering Southampton a strange and unnerving place.

Empress Road industrial estate was quiet as the grave. The body shops had shut for the day, the mechanics and supermarket workers had departed and the streetwalkers were now making their presence felt. Dressed in short skirts and bra tops, they pulled hard on their cigarettes, gleaning what little warmth they could to ward off the bone-chilling cold. Pacing up and down, they worked hard to sell their sex, but in the gloom they appeared more like skeletal wraiths than objects of desire.

The man drove slowly, his eyes raking the line of half-naked junkies. He sized them up—a sharp snap of recognition occasionally punching through—then dismissed them. They weren’t what he was looking for. Tonight he was looking for something special.

Hope jostled with fear and frustration. He had thought of nothing else for days. He was so close now, but what if it was all a lie? An urban myth? He slammed the steering wheel hard. She had to be here.

Nothing. Nothing. Noth—

There she was. Standing alone, leaning against the graffiti-embossed wall. The man felt a sudden surge of excitement. There was something different about this one. She wasn’t checking her nails or smoking or gossiping. She was simply waiting. Waiting for something to happen.

He pulled his car off the road, parking out of sight by a chain-link fence. He had to be careful, mustn’t leave anything to chance. He scanned the streetscape for signs of life, but the fog had cut them off completely. It was as if they were the only two people left in the world.

He marched across the road toward her, then checked himself, slowing his pace. He mustn’t rush this—this was something to be savored and enjoyed. The anticipation was sometimes more enjoyable than the act—experience had taught him that. He must linger over this one. In the days ahead, he would want to replay these memories as accurately as he could.

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

Why You Should Read Edith Wharton’s Ghost Stories This Halloween

When you think of the writer Edith Wharton, “scary” probably isn’t the first word that comes to mind. It may, in fact, be the last. The author of novels such as The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence is known mainly as an observer of high society mores and romantic foibles—not as conjurer of ghosts.

But among Wharton’s publications is a little-known volume of paranormal tales, The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton. And, as someone who regularly seeks out frightful entertainment (whether in the form of a film, a book, or TV show), I can say without a doubt, it’s the most chilling work of art I’ve experienced. Every October, I reread it, to put myself in the mood for the Halloween season. And, over the years, my friends and family have become accustomed to my annual evangelizing on its behalf.

The eleven stories contained in the book aren’t scary in the way that, say, The Ring is scary (although I confess that I also love The Ring). On the whole, they eschew gore and “He’s behind you!” suspense, focusing instead on the everyday moral horrors each of us carries out, and that each of us, at some time or another, becomes haunted by.

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

The Books I Keep Because I Can’t Give Them Away

Any decent book collection houses a variety of species. There may be flocks of paperbacks and herds of hardcovers, a band of coffee table books grazing in the living room, and somewhere out of sight a colony of eBooks swarm. There are first editions and galleys, pulpy re-issues and collectors’ versions. Some are signed, some are out of print. Some have origins in online bookstores, whereas others were bagged at a stoop sale in Park Slope.

The devoted reader knows the provenance and phylum of her collection, and is able to classify them accordingly. But there is a breed of books that confounds me: those books that haunt the shadows, stalking me from apartment to apartment. These are the books I don’t necessarily want or need or never meant to have in the first place. The same books that I haven’t read and probably never will, but for one reason or another I can’t get rid of. Try as I may to cull the herd, there are some books that just won’t be removed from the permanent collection, no matter how frivolous or frayed they may be.

During my last move, I attempted to be ruthless, donating and selling and giving away as many books as I could muster. Reference books were an easy target—I do have the Internet after all. But I’ve often found myself drawn to old, esoteric dictionaries and encyclopedias in some foolhardy attempt to educate myself. And though I have yet to actually open either the English OR Foreign version of the Biographical Dictionary of Literature, they both made the cut and are now skulking the back of a double-stacked shelf.

Giveaways Good for Book Clubs

Enter to Win After You by Jojo Moyes

After You is quintessential Jojo Moyes—a novel that will make you laugh, cry, and rejoice at being back in the world she creates.

Here she does what few novelists can do—revisits beloved characters and takes them to places neither they nor we ever expected. Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.

Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future. . . .

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

The Books That Raised Me

When I was growing up, reading was my favorite pastime and books were my favorite companions. I don’t want to make myself sound like a super nerd, but I was a super nerd. I had a book with me at all times. I preferred reading to recess, and sometimes could convince my teachers to let me stay inside with a novel instead of going outside to play H.O.R.S.E. on the basketball court with the other kids. My family lived within walking distance of the town library, so my sisters and I went there often, amassing piles of literature that we would have to stand at the counter and whittle down before we actually checked out. Books were lifelines, eagerly anticipated gifts, welcome distractions at family holidays.

Flannery O’Conner once wrote, “Anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days.” The experience of childhood is one of discovery, of newness and exploration; children hurtle through a series of rites of passage, work together to solve the mysteries of the complex world, and experience the first pain of betrayal when it’s revealed that people aren’t always what they seem. All of those firsts are poignant, raw experiences that stay with us for the rest of our lives.

Giveaways Good for Book Clubs

Humor Giveaway: Enter to Win The Little Miss and Mr. ME ME ME Series (a parody)

Sick of selfie sticks or those over-sharing TMI-ers in your Facebook feed? Surrounded by millenials sipping pumpkin spice lattes in their Uggs, or self-promoters acting all #grateful and #blessed? Just as the classic Mr. Men/Little Miss characters taught kids good behavior, these hysterical parodies feature adorably damaged adults who’ll make you laugh (and cringe) in recognition.​

The Little Miss and Mr. Me Me Me series. Little books with very BIG personalities.

Excerpt Good for Book Clubs

The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass

Read It Forward is thrilled to share this exclusive excerpt of The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass, the first book in a new series by Jim Butcher, the bestselling author of The Dresden Files and the Codex Alera novels.


Spire Albion, Habble Morning, House Lancaster

“Gwendolyn Margaret Elizabeth Lancaster,” said Mother in a firm, cross voice, “you will cease this nonsense at once.”

“Now, Mother,” Gwendolyn replied absently, “we have discussed the matter at length upon multiple occasions.” She frowned down at the gauntlet upon her left hand and rotated her wrist slightly. “The number three strap is too tight, Sarah. The crystal is digging into my palm.”

“Just a moment, miss.” Sarah bent nearer the gauntlet’s fastenings, eyeing them over the rims of her spectacles. She made a series of quick, deft adjustments and asked, “Is that better?”

Gwendolyn tried the motion again and smiled. “Excellent. Thank you, Sarah.”

“Of course, miss,” Sarah said. She began to smile but glanced aside at Mother and schooled her expression into soberly appropriate diffidence.

“There has been no discussion,” Mother said, folding her arms. “Discussion implies discourse. You have simply pretended I wasn’t in the room when I broached the subject.”

Gwendolyn turned to smile sweetly. “Mother, we can have this conversation again if you wish, but I have not altered my intentions in the least. I will not attend Lady Hadshaw’s Finishing Academy.”

“I would be more than pleased to see you enter the Etheric Engineering Academy along with—”

“Oh!” Gwendolyn said, rolling her eyes. “I’ve been working with those systems in the testing shop since I could walk, and I’m quite sure I will go mad if I have to endure two years’ worth of introductory courses.”

Mother shook her head. “Gwendolyn, you cannot possibly think that—”

“Enough,” Gwendolyn said. “I will enter the Spirearch’s Guard. I will take the oath. I will spend a year in the Service.” She turned to regard her reflection in the long mirror, adjusted her skirts marginally, and straightened the lapels of her short bolero jacket. “Honestly, other daughters of the high Houses take the oath. I cannot imagine why you’re making such a fuss.”

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

The Best Reading Positions for Every Genre

Everyone’s got his or her favorite reading position: propped up in bed, perched in an overstuffed armchair, or sprawled out on the floor. But here at Read It Forward, we’ve done some extensive research into the best physical way to read each genre: from nail-biting page-turners that demand absolute stillness to sweeping romances where you can stretch out like a years-long love affair, each of these poses has as much personality as the book it’s meant to be paired with. Here’s our illustrated guide to the best reading positions for every genre. Find your favorite reading position, share it on social media and encourage your bookworm friends to find theirs!