Monday, December 05, 2005

Name Your Picks for 2006


As 2005 draws to a close, we're starting to set our sights on 2006 and what great new literary adventures await us.

Please drop me a line and tell me what you'd love to read next year.

I've already heard some fascinating recommendations such as:

"The Widow of the South"
"Dirty Blonde and Half-Cuban"
"Julie and Julia"

Write in today!

December 2005 Pick: Memoirs of a Geisha

Hello all!

Thank you to everyone who came and chatted with Anita Shreve last week. We’ve learned a great deal from the best-selling authors we’ve chatted with about their processes and lives as successful writers. Shreve is an author whose books certainly speak to the heart of women’s experiences and as that is a caveat for our book club; we find our next selection to fall right in step with that. This is the first selection that we’ve chosen that is written by a man but it’s such a moving and powerful story about women, choices and their environment that it could not be missed.

Our selection for December is Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. The book came out in 1999 but quickly became a bestselling novel with its stirring poise and power. The film adaptation comes in December and is already stirring up Oscar buzz.

Through the story we enter a world very different than the one we know now. It’s a place where appearances are paramount; where a girl's virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder; where women are trained to entrance powerful men; and where love is scorned. Sayuri's story begins in a poor fishing village in 1929, when, as a nine-year-old with unusual blue-gray eyes, she is taken from her home and sold into slavery to a renowned geisha house. Through her eyes, we enter the geisha district of Kyoto and its teahouses and theaters, narrow back alleys, ornate temples, and artists' streets. Sayuri becomes transformed as she learns the rigorous arts of the geisha: dance and music; wearing kimono, elaborate makeup and hair. But she soon learns that many of the women viciously compete for the attentions and money of the men that visit the geisha houses. But as World War II breaks out their worlds are changed forever. Sayuri, with little money and even less food, is forced to reinvent herself all over again. Her story ends at the world renown Waldorf Astoria but her transformation from a captured soul to women of her own is incredibly memorable and heart breaking.

Join us on Monday, December 12th at 7PM at Joseph-Beth to discuss this remarkable work. To RSVP for this event click on to

Thursday, October 27, 2005

REMINDER: The Lady and The Panda

Just a reminder: If you haven’t had a chance to pick up a copy of “The Lady and the Panda” our first supplemental pick, you won’t be sorry if you do. It is an amazing story of courage and guts by a brilliant woman, Ruth Harkness. We’ll be meeting on Saturday, November 5th at 2PM in the CafĂ© at Joseph-Beth to meet and talk about this enchanting book.

CW November Pick: A Wedding in December

People have mixed feelings about reunions. Some people avoid them like the plague. Others see them as an opportunity to reconnect with old friends. This spring, I went back to New York City to celebrate my ten-year anniversary from grad school. I have never gone to any other reunions because I never felt any sort of bond with the schools I went to but this was different. Columbia University’s journalism program is so rigorous that it fundamentally changes the way you do your craft and how you see the world. My fellow classmates and I see ourselves as war buddies. For the most part, we keep in touch mostly because we genuinely like one another. But partly, I suspect because we don’t quite think anyone else could fully understand the life changing experiences we went through.

Anita Shreve’s newest book, “A Wedding in December”, delves right through the heart of that territory. It’s the story of a close-knit group of students who attended Maine’s Kidd Academy. The group comes back together twenty-five years after their graduation to celebrate the wedding of two high school sweethearts. Each one of the characters brings with them some unresolved issues to the weekend, including how they dealt with the death of one of their beloved friends. Like any experience that forges one character, they realize that there has been some growth and some gaps between where they thought they would be and where they actually are. Tensions build as the group gets snowed in, and someone gets drunk enough to say what everyone's been thinking. Over the weekend, each one of them has an opportunity to re-evaluate their lives based on their youthful dreams and goals. Shreve is brilliant at creating stories rich with memorable characters. This book really pulls back the veil of people who, on the surface, look like they have everything one could ever want. In the end, you feel like you’ve taken a journey with all of them. Not just in time but directly to their heart.

We will be talking directly with Anita Shreve by telephone about her newest book and her brilliant writing career on Friday, November 11th at 7PM at Joseph-Beth Booksellers at SouthPark Mall. We’ll also be raffling a signed copy of one of her books. Please join us and don’t forget to RSVP at

Sunday, October 16, 2005

REMINDER: Too Late for Angels

Hope you are all having a marvelous weekend enjoying some brilliant sunshine (finally!)
If we had received any more rain and we'd have to start building an ark!

But I hope that rain gave you some time to finish this month's book selection, "Too Late for Angels." Just a reminder that we'll be meeting with the book's author Mignon Ballard this Thursday evening at 7PM at Joseph-Beth at SouthPark Mall. We'll talk about her books, the life of a writer and glean some inspiration about becoming a published author.

We also have a huge surprise for Anita Shreve fans, some lovely desert and goodies. I can assure you a fun time will be had for all who come!

If you haven't already, please RSVP online at: to let us know you'll be there.

I also hope you have had some time to check out our first ever supplemental pick, "The Lady and the Panda." I want to thank CW Bookclub regular, Octavia Eisen, for this fabulous read. Every now and again, a book will come into your hands and just be a great gift and delight. Reading about Ruth Harknessess' amazing adventure and her plucky spirit and determination has truly been a gift. Thanks Octavia! We'll be meeting the first week in November to talk about this book. I truly hope you all can make it.


Monday, September 19, 2005

CW October Pick: Too Late for Angels

With fall just around the corner, soon leaves will be turning colors, apple cider will be brewing and pumpkin patches will sprout up all over. This is when I think the southeast is at its loveliest. I remember growing up by the books that I read and fall always meant turning to one of my favorite genres: mysteries.

Our latest pick, “Too Late for Angels” by Mignon Ballard is a delightful combination of all those elements. The book is the latest in a delightful series by a local author that knows how to capture life in a quaint South Carolina town. Small town living includes neighbors that look in on each other and the delicious aroma of cheese straws wafting through the air. But when something goes awry and the town's theater and music aficionado has just been found dead of an apparent fall from a tower, life in Stone's Throw takes on a sinister twist. But help comes by decidedly divine intervention in the form of Augusta Goodnight, a bona fide guardian angel who comes to help with delicious strawberry muffins in tow. This book gives a nod to Agatha Christie with a southern twist and is a great read with some very delicious recipes intertwined.

Join us at 7PM on October 20, 2005 as we meet at Joseph-Beth Booksellers with the series author, Mignon Ballard to discuss this delightful book. Please don't forget to RSVP at:

Nonfiction Pick: The Lady and the Panda

CW Book Club Member Octavia Eisen is so passionate about the book, “The Lady and the Panda” by Vicki Constantine Croke that we are making it a supplemental pick for this month. It’s the real-life story of socialite Ruth Harkness’s amazing journey as she traveled to the far reaches of China to capture a rare and elusive panda. Set during the 1930's, Harkness's drive to continue her late husband's legacy is both endearing and heart-stopping.

Continue to check back for more details on when in October we'll be meeting to discuss this fascinating book!

For those who need a daily dose of panda-monium, check out the latest panda cubs on pandacam at Washington D.C.'s National Zoological Park at :

Stephanie Kallos

Thank you Stephanie Kallos for making our latest event so wonderful!

Ms. Kallos was very illuminating in discussing how "Broken for You" came to life. After a seven-year journey, while writing through motherhood and major life changes, this brilliant book found its way into the hands of the very smart people at Grove Press. Kallos talked about how it was her publishing a small story in an online journal that gleaned her the notice of an agent's assistant. That led to agent representation which was quickly followed by an auction of her work and her finding a home at Grove. The rest is history!

It was a great evening shared with a great talent!
For more on Stephanie, click on to her website at:

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Reminder: Broken For You

Hello everyone:

So much has changed in our world since our last book club meeting.

As we all come to grips with the devastation that Hurricane Katrine unleashed on hundreds of thousands of lives, it is hard to even imagine how so many whose lives were smashed will put their lives back together. Fortunately, with hope, with tenderness and with the great outpouring of affection and care that millions of people around the globe are showering on these displaced Americans, we will one day see this as a defining moment when the world came together to stand shoulder to shoulder with those who need us most.

Putting together the broken pieces of one’s lives is the theme our book club pick for September: Broken for You. Please join us for coffee and dessert Monday, September 12th at Joseph-Beth Booksellers at 7PM where we’ll talk with the book’s author, Stephanie Kallos, from her home in Seattle, WA about this brave and brilliant debut novel.

Please RSVP at:

Friday, August 19, 2005

September Pick: Broken for You

Our September pick is "Broken For You."

This debut novel from author Stephanie Kallos tells the story of two women of different generations whose lives intersect at the most unusual time. Margaret Hughes is a woman whose life of luxury may be coming to a precipitous end. She has lived a life of extreme wealth in the Pacific Northwest but she remains surrounded by things not people. Wanda is a twenty-something woman who traveled west for love. But fate intervened and soon, when she finds herself needing a place to live, she rents a room in Margaret’s mansion.

Wanda has a penchant for mending things: broken china, fractious relationships and life. Margaret soon learns that by opening her home to Wanda, she opened her life to a whole new dimension of life that she never imagined. Soon her life becomes flooded with new possibilities, new people and a renewed zest for life that she never dreamed was possible. This novel celebrates the idea that perfection in life is not mandatory and that some things that are broken in our life can and should be repaired.

Join us at Joseph-Booksellers at SouthPark Mall on Monday, September 12th at 7PM where we’ll have an extraordinary chance to talk in-depth with the author from her home in Seattle, WA.

Please RSVP at

National Book Festival

We’ve had interest from several readers about the upcoming National Book Festival in Washington, D.C on September 24,2005.

Book lovers will get to meet dozens of best-selling authors of every genre at the fifth annual festival, sponsored by the Library of Congress and the First Lady. Carol Hoffman, from Mann Travel will be putting packages together for readers who are interested in traveling to the nation’s capital. You can contact her at (704) 556-8311.

For more information, log on to:

Sunday, August 14, 2005

A reader talks about Vino, Vino

We love hearing from all of you. CW book club member Marty Goodman shared this from her recent trip to Venice and her stop at Vino, Vino-a pivotal place in A Thousand Days in Venice.

"I just returned from Venice yesterday, and we had a drink at Vino Vino. My husband and I always go there since I read the book a few years ago. We wanted our friends to enjoy it, too. I thought of 'the stranger' seeing her through the window. A friend who was reading the book as we traveled was amazed to "live in the book".

The big thing there is the price. Our group had a glass of prosecco, 2 red wines, a beer, and a scotch for less than 10 euros. Now that is a place to have a drink!"

Friday, July 22, 2005

"A Thousand Days in Venice" Event

Hello all!

Thank you to everyone who has blogged, e-mailed me or called to ask when we'll be meeting.

Please let everyone know we'll be meeting on Saturday, August 13th at 2PM at Joseph-Beth Booksellers at SouthPark Mall.

We'll have great food and discussion over this beautiful book.

If anyone wants to make some of the zucchini flowers that the author talks about in the book, I found a great source for them. You can go to the Sweet Union Fresh Food Markets in Monroe on Highway 74 any Saturday morning. The stalls sell about 6-8 of them for only $1! E-mail me if you'd like a great recipe. The author talks about them also in her follow-up book, "A Thousand Days in Tuscany".

We hope to see you all there. Please don't forget to RSVP at The Charlotte Weekly's website at:

Saturday, July 02, 2005

July 2005 Selection

Summer is the time when life slows down a little and we can languor, luxuriate and dream. Our book club’s mission is to speak directly to the heart of women’s experiences. With both those things in mind, I can’t think of a better time to read Marlena De Blasi’s “A Thousand Days in Venice”.

It’s the story of what happens to a woman who has the courage to dream that her life can be completely different from everything she has known. The book is the author’s real life story of what happened to her when she took a trip to Venice, Italy and met the man of her dreams. “The Stranger”, as she calls him, is nothing she ever imagined her soul mate would turn out to be. But ultimately, based on a desire to live a life more fully realized she gives up her home and business in St. Louis, Missouri and moves to Italy. Her exquisite details about daily life in Venice will make you feel like you’re there living each day with her. She talks about the challenges of living in another city where you don’t speak the language or know a single soul. Yet it is in the expansion of her comfort zone and the letting go of everything she knows that she gets a gift far richer than the life she’s had before.

Despite their very romantic beginnings, she and her husband, Fernando, learn to do what every couple, around the world learns to do: actually live with each other and create a life together, day-to-day. De Blasi was a professional woman who enjoyed a full life as a restaurateur, food critic and journalist. Her portrayal of her romance and ultimately marriage is very realistic and is at the heart of this enchanting story. She really looks at what it took for her as a highly independent woman to really let go of all of her defenses and allow love to come into her life. De Blasi describes her horror at seeing her amour’s home for the first time. The transition from leaving the comforts of her American home to the squalor of bachelor living will have you in tears of laughter. Their beautiful and realistic love story is wrapped in a confection of details of Italy and all its beauty.

Please join us for another sparkling event at Joseph-Beth Booksellers at SouthPark Mall later this month to discuss “A Thousand Days in Venice”. Details on date and time will be in a forthcoming issue of The Charlotte Weekly or check back at this blog for more information.

Happy Reading!

Meet Adriana Trigiani

Thank you to everyone who came out Monday night, June 27th for our inaugural event of Charlotte Weekly's Book Club. It was a smashing success!
Adriana Trigiani is one of the funniest, wittiest and most insightful people I have ever had the pleasure to meet. The evening was pure bliss.

She regaled the audience with quips about her life, her new books (she's currently working on the 4th installment of the beloved Big Stone Gap series!), and her family, who all serve as inspiration for all of her novels.

She also took time to talk about some relevant news of the day, like the current makeover by Prince Charles and Camilla.

Adriana was inspirational and delightful and took time with each fan to autograph their books and talk with everyone. Unfortunately, for the people who were waiting for her at the event right after ours, had to wait a bit longer than anticipated but by the time the evening was over, we hope everyone walked away feeling a bit more inspired by life in general.

On a personal note, I have to say it was a real thrill to meet someone whose work you not only admire but someone who is obviously so passionate about what they do and is kind and warm to everyone. Sadly, not every famous person is like that.

Thank you Adriana for making our event so wonderful!

Monday, June 13, 2005

Recommend Our Next Book Selection

Have a book that you absolutely LOVE and want to share?

Post it here and we'll find out if the author can come and chat with us! It may just end up being our next book club selection.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Summer Book List

What are you reading right now?

It always feels like we have a few more hours to langor and luxuriate. What better way to do that then with a great book?

Share what you're reading. You might find a great selection you never heard about right here!

June 2005 Selection

This month's selection is: "The Queen of the Big Time" by Adriana Trigiani.

This is an incredible and heartwarming story!

The book's heroine, Nella Castelluca, has dreams of a grand life away from her rural Pennsylvania home. But when her father gets injured, she has to take his place on their family farm. All seems to be settling down until she meets the love of her life. After being devastated when he leaves, she wonders if she'll ever find love again. Just when she finds a good, steady man, her first love returns which turns her entire world over. This a story about love and loss and the struggle between being true to your roots vs. going for your own dreams that you'll never forget.

The book is out in paperback now! So rush to Joseph-Beth or your nearest bookseller now. Please join us and meet Ms. Trigiani to talk about "The Queen of the Big Time" at 6:30 P.M. on June 27th at Joseph-Beth for an inspiring evening!

Let us know what you think about the book by posting here!



Welcome to the best book blog ever!

My name is Alison Woo and I've been a passionate reader of books since I was two-years-old!

This summer, I'm launching a book club with the The Charlotte Weekly and Joseph-Beth Booksellers. I invite you to join us on this great adventure. We're going to be meeting monthly at the new and phenomenal Joseph-Beth bookstore at SouthPark Mall in south Charlotte. Each month, a new selection will be posted here on the site and we'll be lucky enough to spend some quality time with the author to talk about their book. We'd all love to have you come join us in person, but if you can't, you can come right here to this spot and tell what you thought about the book.

This space is just for the readers. It's here to help you share your passion, talk to other book-lovers, let us know what you're reading and share your favorite books.

Let the reading begin!