Risa Klarman is a Toronto-based lawyer with a love of Greek and Roman classics. This past December, she self-published her first novel, The Gods of Love and Murder, a “whodunit” story that begins when a beautiful, enigmatic woman named Vanessa appears naked out of Lake Ontario in the middle of a winter night, only to be arrested for indecent exposure. Two lawyers, Casey Brown and Edward Reagan, reluctantly agree to defend her, but soon find themselves drawn more and more deeply into the cases of some murders happening around the city of Toronto until they discover, to their horror, that they might have committed them.

Klarman took the time to speak to Bookclub-in-a-Box about her captivating debut novel, a literary murder mystery that follows a number of characters whose names reference the gods and goddesses in Greek and Roman mythology. Using the same themes found in those stories, The Gods of Love and Murder explores guilt, compulsion, love, loss and redemption.

Want to win a copy of The Gods of Love and Murder? Send an email with your full name and mailing address to laura@bookclubinabox.com by March 25 to enter the contest! The book is also available for purchase through Amazon.ca and Amazon.com. (Contest open to residents of Canada only.)

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Bookclub-in-a-Box is excited to be giving away a copy of The Invention of Wings to one reader! To enter the contest, just email laura@ bookclubinabox.com with your name and mailing address by March 4. (Canadian residents only.)

Reviewed by Laura Godfrey

After the success of her first two novels, The Secret Life of Bees and The Mermaid Chair, Southern America-born author Sue Monk Kidd has written another novel that seems destined to have a lasting impact on readers. The Invention of Wings is based on Sarah and Angelina Grimké, two real-life sisters from the early 19th century—they were the first female abolition agents, fighting for racial equality, and among the earliest major American feminist thinkers. The author has taken details from the documented lives of these women, and woven in some details of her own to create an inspiring story full of rich characters.

The Invention of Wings begins with young Sarah Grimké, an intelligent, redheaded girl from a wealthy, slave-owning family in Charleston, South Carolina. For her 11th birthday, Sarah’s mother gives her a gift: ownership of Hetty “Handful,” a 10-year-old slave who is intended to be Sarah’s handmaid. But even at that age, Sarah is strong in her conviction about the evils of slavery, and tries to refuse this unwanted gift.

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Buy your tickets through Bookclub-in-a-Box and save 20% off the box office price!

In partnership with the Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company, Bookclub-in-a-Box is offering tickets to the March 30 (7 p.m.) and April 2 (8 p.m.) performances of the Canadian premiere of an off-Broadway hit, David Ives’ New Jerusalem. The tense courtroom drama, directed by Mitchell Cushman, reenacts the life of Baruch de Spinoza, a 17th-century Jewish-Dutch philosopher. Regular ticket prices are $57.63, but you only pay $48 (tax included) when you buy through Bookclub-in-a-Box!

Click here to buy tickets now.

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Sharon Baltman is a Toronto-based physician psychotherapist who has travelled across Canada, the U.S., Africa, and Israel. Her articles have appeared in the Globe and Mail, on-air in First Person Singular on the CBC, and in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, among others. This fall, Baltman published Escape From the Bedside, a memoir about her experiences becoming a doctor in the early days of feminism, and why she chose to pursue narrative medicine. She whips back the curtain on outrageous moral dilemmas, knocking doctors off their pedestals. Her journey continues through tragic personal losses and betrayals, but she perseveres through her sense of humour and unwavering optimism. Baltman recently spoke to Bookclub-in-a-Box about her new memoir, which author and playwright Marianne Ackerman calls ”a lesson in living” and “a deliciously good tale.”

CONTEST: Want to win a paperback copy of Sharon Baltman’s memoir? To enter, send your name and mailing address to laura@bookclubinabox.com by Wednesday, December 11. Good luck! (Open to residents of Canada only.) [UPDATE: This contest is now closed. Thanks to all who entered, and congratulations to our winner, Dorothy!]

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The five finalists for Canada Reads 2014 were finally announced today, and Bookclub-in-a-Box is offering readers a chance to win the ultimate prize pack: all five Canada Reads 2014 books, and a pair of tickets to any day of the final debates (scheduled for March 3–6, 2014).

The theme for this year’s literary debate, hosted by CBC’s Jian Ghomeshi, is novels that could change Canada. Which books made the final five, and which Canadians are defending these choices?

  • The Year of the Flood, by Margaret Atwood (defended by Stephen Lewis, philanthropist, chair of the Stephen Lewis Foundation)
  • The Orenda, by Joseph Boyden (defended by Wab Kinew, an award-winning journalist, aboriginal activist and hip-hop artist)
  • Half-Blood Blues, by Esi Edugyan (defended by Donovan Bailey, Olympic gold medallist and world record-holder for the indoor 50-metre dash)
  • Cockroach, by Rawi Hage (defended by Samantha Bee, comic, actor and writer; correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart)
  • Annabel, by Kathleen Winter (defended by Sarah Gadon, actor; A Dangerous Method, Cosmopolis)

To enter the contest: Send your full name and mailing address to laura@bookclubinabox.com by December 4, and let us know which book you think will win. Good luck!

[UPDATE: This contest is now closed. Thanks to all who entered, and congratulations to our winner, Phyllis!]

(Contest open to residents of the GTA only.)

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Reviewed by Aaron Kreuter

When Mae Holland, the protagonist in Dave Eggers’ newest novel, The Circle, is given the opportunity to work at the Circle, the internet and technology company that has replaced Google and Facebook, she is thrilled. Instead of working the dead-end job at her hometown’s power company, she gets to be a part of the company that has revolutionized the internet through TruYou, a program that amalgamates all of your online identities and makes identity theft and anonymity a thing of the past. If it wasn’t for Annie, her college roommate who rose fast through the company ranks and got Mae the job, she wouldn’t be here: “A million people, a billion, wanted be where Mae was at this moment, entering this atrium, thirty feet high and shot through with California light, on her first day working for the only company that really mattered at all.”

The Circle opens with Mae’s first day in her new position in ‘customer experience,’ and she is filled with hope and excitement. And at first it does seem like a dream job: the campus is full of beautiful architecture, sports facilities, cooking classes, musicians-in-residence, almost nightly themed celebrations. The food in the cafeteria is free; everybody is happy; and the health care, which Mae is able to get her MS-suffering dad enrolled in, is excellent.

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