Excerpt Good for Book Clubs

Read a Hilarious Excerpt from American Housewife

A sharp, funny, delightfully unhinged collection of stories set in the dark world of domesticity, American Housewife features murderous ladies who lunch, celebrity treasure hunters, and the best bra fitter south of the Mason Dixon line.

Meet the women of American Housewife: they wear lipstick, pearls, and sunscreen, even when it’s cloudy. They casserole. They pinwheel. They pump the salad spinner like it’s a CPR dummy. And then they kill a party crasher, carefully stepping around the body to pull cookies out of the oven. These twelve irresistible stories take us from a haunted prewar Manhattan apartment building to the set of a rigged reality television show, from the unique initiation ritual of a book club to the getaway car of a pageant princess on the lam, from the gallery opening of a tinfoil artist to the fitting room of a legendary lingerie shop. Vicious, fresh, and nutty as a poisoned Goo Goo Cluster, American Housewife is an uproarious, pointed commentary on womanhood.

Hello! Welcome to Book Club

Hello! Welcome to Book Club. I’m your hostess. My Book Club name is Mary Beth. We all have Book Club names at Book Club.

Why, dear? Well, really, why not?

The girl who brought you here goes by Delores. The ladies on the red sofa named themselves after TV judges. The ladies on the gray sofa named themselves after the Supremes. The ladies at the buffet table chose Bethany, Marjorie, and Aretha. The elderly lady dozing off in the egg chair calls herself Jane.

Giveaways Good for Book Clubs

Literary Fiction Giveaway: Wreck and Order

A boldly candid, raw portrait of a young woman’s search for meaning and purpose in an indifferent world.

Decisively aimless, self-destructive, and impulsively in and out of love, Elsie is a young woman who feels stuck. She has a tumultuous relationship with an abusive boyfriend, a dead-end job at a newspaper, and a sharp intelligence that’s constantly at odds with her many bad decisions. When her initial attempts to improve her life go awry, Elsie decides that a dramatic change is the only solution.

Giveaways Good for Book Clubs

Mystery Giveaway: All Things Cease to Appear

A dark, riveting, beautifully written book—by “a brilliant novelist,” according to Richard Bausch—that combines noir and the gothic in a story about two families entwined in their own unhappiness, with, at its heart, a gruesome and unsolved murder.

Late one winter afternoon in upstate New York, George Clare comes home to find his wife killed and their three-year-old daughter alone—for how many hours?—in her room across the hall. He had recently, begrudgingly, taken a position at a nearby private college (far too expensive for local kids to attend) teaching art history, and moved his family into a tight-knit, impoverished town that has lately been discovered by wealthy outsiders in search of a rural idyll.

Author Essay Good for Book Clubs

The Art of the Cliffhanger

Peter Clines, author of the science fiction graphic novel series Ex-Heroes, reveals his secrets for writing the perfect cliffhanger.

I love a good cliffhanger. One of those moments when you leave the audience dangling with nothing but their own guesses to explain what happens next. I like writing them, reading them, and watching them. A well-done one is wonderful on a bunch of levels.

As my own writing style’s developed, I’ve kind of become a fan of what you could call the “sliding-up-to-the-cliff” cliffhanger, where the reader’s given all the clues and facts and left on their own to make that last, inevitable step.

All that being said, when someone recently asked me about cliffhangers, my mind immediately went to the obvious place. And that place was Doctor Who.

This isn’t much of a shock, in retrospect. While lots of you know the newer show, the original had a very different format. Back in the olden times—when I counted my age in single digits and British sci-fi only came to us through the Boston PBS station—Doctor Who tended to be two hour stories broken up into four half hour episodes. And each of these episodes would end on a big cliffhanger with a shrieking musical stinger.

It didn’t take me long (well, okay, maybe a year or two—again, barely stretching into double digits) to recognize a certain pattern. You could call it a good ground rule for a cliffhanger—our first point. Pretty much every episode would end with things suddenly getting somehow worse. The disintegrator ray makes the robot grow for some reason. The Doctor attempts to distract Sutekh and finds himself severely outmatched. One of my favorites had the Doctor delivering the ominous closing line “I thought I’d locked the enemy out. Instead I’ve locked it in… with us.”

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

RIF’s Favorite Reads of January

Here on the East Coast, we’re still recovering from the near-thirty inches of snow we received last week (thanks Jonas!), but you won’t hear us complaining. We loved spending our wintry weekend hunkered down with our noses in a good book. Here are the books we’ve been loving this month. Click on the images to shop our picks, then let us know in the comments what you’ve been reading!

Author Essay Good for Book Clubs

A Writer’s Retreat

Like most writers, Manchester-born and London-based author Howard Jacobson is very particular about where he writes. Jacobson, who is the author of five works of nonfiction and several novels, elects to write in a glass-enclosed space that looks out at London’s rooftops. It is here in this retreat, surrounded by books, that he has penned novels like J, a darkly funny love story set in a dystopian landscape, and most recently, Shylock Is My Name, a modern reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, which will be released in the U.S. on February 9. Here, Jacobson welcomes Read It Forward for a behind-the-scenes look at his writing space.

Giveaways Good for Book Clubs

Literary Fiction Giveaway: The Vegetarian

A beautiful, unsettling novel about rebellion and taboo, violence and eroticism, and the twisting metamorphosis of a soul. Before the nightmares began, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary, controlled life. But the dreams—invasive images of blood and brutality—torture her, driving Yeong-hye to purge her mind and renounce eating meat altogether. It’s a small act of independence, but it interrupts her marriage and sets into motion an increasingly grotesque chain of events at home.

Giveaways Good for Book Clubs

Historical Fiction Giveaway: A Friend of Mr. Lincoln

It is Illinois in the 1830s and 1840s. Abraham Lincoln is a circuit-riding lawyer, a member of the state legislature, a man of almost ungovernable ambition. To his friends he is also a beloved figure, by turns charmingly awkward and mesmerizingly self-possessed—a man of whom they, too, expect big things. Among his friends and political colleagues are Joshua Speed, William Herndon, Stephen Douglas, and many others who have come to the exploding frontier town of Springfield to find their futures.