Enter the contest: Win two tickets to Tarragon Theatre’s poetic thriller Abyss, for any performance between Feb. 12 and March 15. To enter, email your name and phone number to laura@bookclubinabox.com by Feb. 9.

Discount: Save 20% off tickets with coupon code “BOOKCLUB”!

Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre presents the English-language premiere of Abyss by award-winning Tarragon playwright-in-residence Maria Milisavljevic.

Karla Richter has gone missing, last seen heading to the grocery store in her red rubber boots. The police and papers ignore her disappearance, leaving her three friends to discover the truth. As the story slowly unravels, it becomes clear that all three of them have been harbouring secrets. A search for Karla becomes a search for the self in this lyrical thriller and modern-day epic cloaked in the mystery of Europe’s underworld. Abyss was directed by Tarragon’s artistic director Richard Rose, and stars Cara Pifko, Gord Rand, and Sarah Sherman.

Bookclub-in-a-Box readers can save 20% off the cost of regular tickets. Visit tickets.tarragontheatre.com, select your show date and time, and follow the steps until you reach the “Add Tickets to Shopping Cart” stage. Once you click that button, enter the word BOOKCLUB into the coupon code box. Should you have any issues please give the theatre’s Patron Services a call at 416-531-1827.

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Today is the official launch of the Novel Notes Mini-Guide for Steven Galloway’s haunting, beautiful novel The Cellist of Sarajevo.

In a city under siege, four people whose lives have been upended are ultimately reminded of what it is to be human. In this novel, Steven Galloway has painted a portrait of the Siege of Sarajevo (1992–1996) that will not be soon forgotten.

Click here to buy the PDF guide now for just $5.50.

The Bookclub-in-a-Box Mini-Guide (37 pages) includes complete coverage of the characters, themes, symbols, historical background and writing style, plus discussion questions to get your book club or classroom buzzing.

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Looking for something to fill these lazy, hazy days of summer? Bookclub-in-a-Box’s Marilyn Herbert has put together our annual list of books we’ve either already read or are eager to read. Some of these are brand new, and some are older books you should really get around to if you haven’t already. Have you read any of these titles? What books are you reading this summer?

The Orenda   (Joseph Boyden)

A visceral portrait of life at a crossroads, The Orenda opens with a brutal massacre and the kidnapping of the young Iroquois Snow Falls, a spirited girl with a special gift. Her captor, Bird, is an elder and one of the Huron Nation’s great warriors and statesmen. It has been years since the murder of his family, and yet they are never far from his mind. In Snow Falls, Bird recognizes the ghost of his lost daughter and sees that the girl possesses powerful magic that will be useful to him on the troubled road ahead. Bird’s people have battled the Iroquois for as long as he can remember, but both tribes now face a new, more dangerous threat from afar.

Frog Music  (Emma Donaghue)

It is 1876, and San Francisco, the freewheeling “Paris of the West,” is in the fierce grip of a record-breaking heat wave and a smallpox epidemic. Through the window of a railroad saloon, a young woman called Jenny Bonnet is shot dead. The survivor, her friend Blanche Beunon, is a French burlesque dancer. Over the next three days, Blanche will risk everything to bring Jenny’s murderer to justice—if he doesn’t track her down first. The story Blanche struggles to piece together is one of free-love bohemians, desperate paupers and arrogant millionaires; of jealous men, icy women and damaged children. It’s the secret life of Jenny herself, a notorious character who breaks the law every morning by getting dressed. Continue reading

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Leslie Levine Adler and Meryll Levine Page are not just co-authors, but also sisters who grew up together in suburban Columbus, Ohio. Their family descended from Russian Jews who fled to the U.S. in the early 20th century, which explains the sisters’ shared interest in Russian history and women’s history. Last fall, Leslie and Meryll published the non-fiction book Jewish Luck: A True Story of Friendship, Deception and Risky Business, a combination of personal stories and relevant historical detail. It recounts the experiences of Vera and Alisa, two women Leslie first met in 1976 during her post-secondary studies in Leningrad, and their “struggles against the anti-Semitism and patriarchy of the Soviet regime.”

Leslie and Meryll recently took the time to talk to Bookclub-in-a-Box about how this book came to be, and the obstacles their friends had to overcome in Soviet Russia.

What made you decide this story should be turned into a book?

Leslie Levine Adler: It was a moment when I thought that life had turned out so completely differently from anything I could have imagined.  It needed to be documented. That was the moment when I was attending the wedding of Vera’s son in the Cayman Islands with my family. Here was this woman I had met on the street in Leningrad in 1976.  I had left all my Target clothes to her that summer along with a promise to write.  Now, she was treating my family to rooms at the Ritz-Carlton to attend the wedding of her son.  When her son came to boarding school in Minnesota around 2001, little did I know how close he would become to my family.  In 2010, we are all together as one family with our other friends, RD and Lars, on this “pirate island.” I had never dreamed that Vera would be able to come to the U.S., much less that our children would know each other.  The fact that she also made a small fortune for herself and chose her country of residence was intriguing as well.

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Dear Bookclub-in-a-Box readers,

An important announcement about changes to our website: due to the increasing preference for PDF discussion guides over the print versions, and the costs associated with printing, Bookclub-in-a-Box will be discontinuing print versions of all guides after May 31, 2014. The good news: For the rest of May, all print discussion guides ordered through our website will be on sale for 50% off! That means all print titles are only $7.49 each, no coupon code necessary. If you were planning to stock up on a few of your favourite titles, now is the best time to do so.

We will continue to sell all 65+ of our titles as PDFs, the format that more and more readers have been choosing over the past several years. Many of our guides are also available as ebooks through Amazon and Kobo, if you search for our name through their online stores.

You will also notice a change to the payment system through our website: while credit card payments have gone through a system called Moneris in the past, after May 31, our payment system will be switching to Paypal only — credit cards are still accepted securely through Paypal, and creating a Paypal account is not necessary to use this method.

We hope you’ll take advantage of the opportunity to order any print guide for 50% off while it lasts. Thank you for your continued support, and happy reading!

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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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