TIME Magazine Features Lisa's Annual BIG BOOK CLUB PARTY!
What happens when hundreds of fans descend on the country home of a favorite author?
By Andrea Sachs, Nov. 05, 2013
Lisa Scottoline is a hugger.
The best-selling author stands at the front of a seemingly endless receiving line of fans at her sprawling 44-acre Pennsylvania farm. She is flanked by her daughter and sometimes co-writer, Francesca Serritella. Each person receives a personal welcome from Scottoline; this is her annual book-club party, and she is determined to hug every one of the 450 attendees.
They are just as eager to hug her back. After all, isn’t it every book lover’s fantasy to have her favorite author come out from behind the editorial curtain and schmooze? There is the air of excitement as each new book club arrives at the front of the line. Some present festively wrapped gifts. This is Woodstock for women who love to read, a total girl-fest. And this is only the first of two days of festivities; another group of 450 devotees will arrive tomorrow.
Annual Book Club Contest
Lisa loves book clubs and is grateful to those who choose her books. As a way to honor and thank book clubs who read her, Lisa has created a special contest for book clubs. The winning book club, chosen by random drawing, will enjoy a visit from Lisa and a fun-filled dinner. But that’s not all! Those who enter will be invited to Lisa’s home for her Annual Big Book Club Party, as space permits. This special event has limited space, so be sure to get your entry in early.
Here is how you enter: (Only entries that adhere to the rules will be accepted)
- THE CONTEST IS CLOSED FOR DON'T GO, BUT LISA WILL BE HOLDING ANOTHER ONE SOON SO Stay Tuned!
Congratulations to the Yacht Club of Stone Harbor Navigators Book Club who were chosen through a random drawing of the COME HOME book club contest. They will be treated to a special dinner in their local hometown by Lisa.
Questions For Book Clubs
Lisa feels honored when one of her books is chosen as a book club read. But, she doesn't want you to work too hard, so she has provided the questions to get your book club discussion started.
DON'T GO: Questions for Book Clubs
- Don't Go explores the theme of parenthood, and what it means to be a good parent. Do you think a father can be as good of a parent as a mother? Does the gender of the child change your answer? Why or why not?
- What do you think caused Chloe's downward spiral after Mike left? In what way did your understanding of her actions change by the end of the book?
- Do you understand Mike’s feelings of alienation from his daughter? Would he have felt this way had his child been a boy? How did Danielle either contribute towards these feelings, or help alleviate them?
- What motivations do you attribute to Bob and Danielle's actions? How did your impression of them change throughout the story? Did you like them? Why or why not?
- In what ways do you think the war changed Mike as a person? Did you agree or disagree with his decision to return? Do you think he really had a choice? Why or why not?
- Mike forms an unbreakable bond with his war buddies, yet his longtime friend from home turns out to be less than trustworthy. If he had meet his war buddies in regular life how do you think their friendships would have differed? In what ways do friendships amongst women differ from friendships amongst men?
- Mike's return home from war turns out disastrous. What do you think Mike could have done different to make his transition with his daughter better? What ways can our communities and government help our veterans transition back into society when they return? What about helping the families left behind?
- Mike experiences betrayal from several people he loves the most. Whose betrayal do you consider the most significant? If Mike had not gone to war, how do you think his relationship with Chloe would have been different? How did his feelings towards her change throughout the book?
- At what point do you think Mike decided to fight back? What do you think are his greatest challenges in raising a daughter as a single dad and a wounded war vet?
- Don't Go is filled with both dark moments and bright moments. What do you think was the darkest moment in the book, and what was the most uplifting?
- Ultimately, Don't Go is about being a hero. What do you think it means to be a hero? In what ways is Mike a hero?
Best Friends, Occasional Enemies: Questions for Book Clubs
- Lisa and Francesca are truly best friends, but admittedly, they have some occasional enemies moments. Many parents today want to be best friends with their children, but are too afraid to face the occasional enemies part. Where do you draw the line between friendship and good parenting? How do you think the parent/child dynamics have changed from your own childhood to today? What impact do you think this shift will have on the younger generation in the future?
- As Lisa navigates the dating world as a 50-something, she learns a lot about herself, and isn't willing to settle. More and more women are finding themselves alone, and are making full, happy lives for themselves. Why do you think so many women are afraid to be alone? Do you think you could be happy alone? Why or why not? If you are alone, or found yourself alone, what kind of things would you fill your life with in order to feel complete and happy? Whether you are currently married or not, would you consider marriage again? Why or why not?
- In Best Friends, Occasional Enemies, Lisa and Francesca each write about the loss of their family animals. Their furry friends are an important part of their family, and have meant different things to them through the years. Do you think it is important for children to grow up with pets? Why or why not? What role do pets play in the family, and what can we learn from them? Do you think animals experience their own grief at the loss of a family member, human or furry?
- Lisa writes about buying presents for Francesca online, and when they arrived, they were not exactly what Lisa expected. Are you an online shopper, and if so, how often do you use the internet to make purchases. If not, what is holding you back? Do you think there is an impersonal element to buying presents online? What items would you never consider buying over the internet? Have you had any bad experiences purchasing online items, and do you think you are more or less likely to return something purchased online rather than in a traditional store?
- Motherhood has no expiration date, so even though Francesca has moved out, Lisa never stops worrying about her. As part of the Sandwich Generation, Lisa finds herself worrying and caring for Mother Mary as well. What responsibility do you think children have in the caring of their parents? What are the challenges of caring for elderly parents, and how do you juggle between allowing them to make their own decisions as adults, and giving them the best possible care? Do you think that caring for an elderly parent helps ease the emotional blow of having an empty nest, or does it just delay the inevitable?
- As Francesca points out, love is a gamble. What have you done in the name of love, that you otherwise would never have done? Do you believe in love at first sight? Why or why not? Should parents let their children make their own mistakes in love, and stay out of it? When or how should a parent step in? Have you regretted any relationships you have ever had, or do you see them all as learning experiences? Is ex-sex ever a good idea? Why or why not? What do you do to ease the pain of a break-up? Do you have a go-to comfort food? A special friend to talk to? Do you think you should take time or is a new relationship the best way to heal from a broken one?
- When Lisa loves, she is all in! So when Lisa watches her favorite sports team, even from her couch, she decks herself out in all her fanwear. What significance, beyond supporting your favorite team , does donning fanwear have for people? Do you think it is a way to stand out, or fit in? In what ways are professional sports teams good for a community, and why do you think they bring out such passion in people?
- Lisa and Francesca have a practical tug-of-war over a particular green jacket. How would you feel about owning the same pieces of clothing as your mother? Would you ever wear them at the same time? Do you think mothers and daughters dressing the same is ever cute? How has the way your mother dressed influenced your own wardrobe choices? What does how we dress say about us?
- Francesca writes about her bank angst, and in speaking with other women, she realizes she is not alone. Why do you think so many smart, educated women are intimidated by banking, the stock market, or other financially related tasks? What do you think about women maintaining their own separate bank account, even when they are married? Would you rather be in control of the money and the paying of the bills, or would you rather leave it to someone else?
- Lisa loved her car so much, she couldn't give it up. Her assistant cried when she sold her car, too? Why do you think people become so attached to their cars? Why do women and men both measure men on the type of car they drive? What do you think about the fact that Lisa went on a date and because she drove a nicer car than her date, he would not ask her out again? What can you tell about a person by the kind of car they drive?
COME HOME: Questions for Book Clubs
- COME HOME, at its heart, is the story of family, and more specifically, the blending of families. What are the dynamics in your own family like? What do you think the greatest challenge is in blending two families?
- One of the main themes in this book is leaving home and "coming home." In which ways have each of the main characters (Jill, Abby, Megan, Victoria) left home or come home?
- Do you understand Jill's emotional response to Abby when she first sees her after several years? Why or why not?
- Describe Sam's response to the dynamics between Abby and Jill. Do you agree with him? Do you relate to his response? Do you feel he acted appropriately?
- Have you ever had a situation where you were forced to be estranged from someone you cared about?
- How do you think the Abby's and Victoria's separation from Jill affected them?What do you think Jill could have done differently, given the circumstances?
- How would you describe Will? Why do you think Jill was so easily fooled by him?
- What rights do you think a person should have if they were instrumental in helping raise a child? What do you think is better for the child? How do you think the legal system will deal with this issue in the future given the growing number of blended families?
- Often times a parent must give the majority of their attention to the child that needs it the most. Do you feel like Jill was neglecting Megan in favor of helping Abby? What would you have done if you were Jill?
- Now, for fun—Would you help solve the murder of your ex-husband? Go easy—at least until the second glass of wine has been served.
SAVE ME: Questions for Book Clubs
- SAVE ME explores the mother and child relationship, at its heart. What do you think defines a mother? How is a mother and child relationship different than any other relationship? Look at other forms of culture, like art, for example. How many depictions are there of mother and child? And how many of father and child? Are we discriminating against fathers, or diminishing them, by all this talk of the mother-child bond? And by doing so, do we create a self-fulfilling prophecy?
- In SAVE ME, Melly is the victim of bullying because of a birthmark on her face. Do you think bullying is different today than years ago? Do you think that the bullying is getting worse, or are we just hearing more about it because of the Internet? What do you think parents and schools should do to help curb bullying? What kind of punishment do you think is appropriate for the child who is doing the bullying? What about those who watch and say nothing? Are they, or aren't they, equally as culpable? Do you think that school programs and curricula that build up self-esteem and a sense of community will really make a difference?
- Rose experienced her own bullying at the hands of the angry parents, which gave her new perspective on what Melly was going through. Do you have any experience with bullying between adults? In what ways are adults better equipped to deal with bullying than children? What impact can bullying have on adults, and what can an adult do if they are faced with a bully? What impact does being a bully, or being a bully as an adult, have on their children?
- Rose steps in to defend Melly against her bully. Do you think it was a good idea? Why or why not? How do you think a parent's involvement hurts or helps the situation? At what point do you think a parent needs to involve themselves in the situation? What steps would you take to help your child if they were being bullied, and how far would you be willing to go?
- What impact do you think a physical blemish has on a child, and how do you think it effects their identity, their relationship with their family, and their relationship with the outside world? Take it a step further -- like how about physical differences, like a child in a wheelchair? Or learning challenges, that aren't so visible? Or how about discriminations based on race, religion or sexual orientation? Melly's father reacted very badly to Melly's birthmark. What did his reaction make you feel about him?
- Many of Lisa's books center on single mothers or blended families. Do you think the love of one great parent is enough to sustain a child through life? Does it take a husband, too? Or a village?
- As Rose found out, volunteering comes with risks. The book makes clear that this is a problem in the law of many states, maybe even where you live. What do you think of the laws in terms of protecting those who volunteer their time? What changes, if any, would you make to the laws to protect volunteers? Should we expand the Good Samaritan statues to include volunteers and to encourage even more people to volunteer?
- How did you feel about Rose keeping her secret past from Leo? Did you understand her reasoning? Did you agree or disagree with it? What impact do you think Rose's past will have on her marriage as she moves forward? Do you think she will ever really be able to escape what happened? Will he forgive her not telling him? How do secrets impact intimacy in our lives?
- Rose was called a "helicopter" parent, a term often used in today's society with a negative connotation. What separates helicopter parenting from good parenting? What kind of parent do you think Rose was? What mistakes do you think she made? Do you think she was a good mother? Do you think she favors Melly, or the baby? Or treats them equally?
- How did you feel about Amanda in the beginning of the book? How, if at all, did your opinion of her change by the end of the book? What do you think causes children to be bullies? Under what circumstances would you ever feel bad for the bully? In punishing a bully, do you think their personal circumstances should be taken into account?
- What did you think of Rose's lawyers' strategy? Did you agree or disagree with it? Why or why not? Do you think they were just passing the blame, or do you think the school had a responsibility in what happened? Do you think that litigation is another form of bullying? Do you know anybody who is sue-happy?
THINK TWICE: Questions for Book Clubs
- On the first page, we are told that Bennie and Alice, despite identical DNA, are polar opposites—but are they? Aside from appearance, in what ways are these women "twins?" What traits do they share?
- Alice was given up for adoption and Bennie was raised by their mother. Who do you think had a better life? Why? What impact do you think this had on the person Alice has become? Do you think Alice uses this as justification for her horrible acts? Does Bennie owe Alice anything? Why or why not?
- THINK TWICE asks the question, Is evil born or bred? How does the book explore the question, and how would you answer that question? Do you think there can be evil in a good person, and good in an evil person? Explain. When pushed to the limit, do you think we are all capable of evil? Talk about what might make you do something you would otherwise never do.
- Both Alice and Bennie have a chance to kill one another, yet neither goes through with it. Why do you think that is?
- What is the significance of Alice's decision to bury Bennie alive? Is it cruel torture, a flash of compassion, or simply an error in judgment? In what ways have they both "buried" each other over the years? Is this act metaphoric of something else?
- If Valentina had not intervened, do you think Bennie would have shot and killed Alice? Would she have been justified? Would you have forgiven her? Is that the same question? In what way would killing Alice have led to Bennie's own destruction?
- Why is it unsettling to imagine one has a doppelganger, a double, a second self walking the earth? If you found out that you had a twin you had never met, would you feel excited to embrace your long lost sibling, or would you feel threatened by this other you? What impact do you think it would have on your life and close relationships?
- Mary DiNunzio has worked closely with Bennie for years, yet she was easily fooled by Alice. Why? Why was Mary so inclined to believe Alice's impersonation? Was she just distracted by her recent troubles with Anthony, or was she blinded by Bennie's new found admiration for her?
- Speaking of her relationship trouble, what did you think about Mary's decision about the house? Did you agree or disagree? Why? Is Anthony old-fashioned to want to be the main breadwinner in their relationship, or is that urge to provide in a man's nature? How are disparate salaries playing a role in today's relationships?
- Is Valentina a real witch or a charlatan? Does she have superpowers or just a good gut instinct? Do you trust your instincts? Have you ever had an experience that lead you to believe you might have a sixth sense?
WHY MY THIRD HUSBAND WILL BE A DOG: Questions for Book Clubs
- Lisa dedicates the book to ordinary extraordinary women everywhere. She wanted to celebrate average women, such as herself, her mother, daughter and her girlfriends, and the strength they muster to face the challenges of life. In what ways can you relate to Lisa and her adventures? Who in Lisa's book can you most closely identify with? Do you have a Mother Mary in your life?
- Lisa grew up reading Erma Bombeck in the newspaper and loved her books, and many readers have remarked that these columns remind them of Erma's, but with a modern twist. Do you agree or disagree? Why? And why aren't there more memoirs about the domestic lives of moms and families?
- Lisa has some very close girlfriends, who she would do anything for and who would do anything for her. Who are your closest friends and how did you meet? How are you similar to your friends, and how are you different? Do you think a friendship is a true friendship if you have to work at it? Why or why not?
- Some women swear by Spanx, but Lisa hates them. How do you feel about Spanx? What statement do you think they make about women today and what about the pressure for women to look ageless?
- Lisa thinks that parenthood is a series of letting-go points with our children, whether it's to kindergarten or to college. She admits she has trouble letting go of Daughter Francesca. * For those of you who have gone through this transition with your child, what do you think was the hardest part? How did you deal with it?* What are your thoughts about Lisa's theory that parents* do not own a child, but rather children own themselves, and are merely gifted to parents for a time?
- Lisa has a house full of animals, and she wouldn't want it any other way. *Do you have a special animal in your life?* What do you think about the connection Lisa makes between divorces and acquiring animals?
- Which of Lisa's stories could you relate to the most? Which was your favorite and why? Which one made you laugh out loud? Which one made you cry? Which one would you most likely read to a friend?
- How is Daughter Francesca's relationship different with Mother Mary than Lisa's? What similarities do you see between Lisa and Daughter Francesca's relationship and Lisa and Mother Mary's? How are they different? Are either of these relationships similar to one in your own life?
- Lisa and Francesca find everyday moments extraordinary. What are some of your favorite ordinary, extraordinary moments?
- A great stage actor once said that, "Dying is easy, comedy is hard." Agree? Do you think it's harder to write humor than straight prose? Why aren't more memoirs written with humor? Do you think that humor makes a memoir seems less worthy, or "lightweight"? What is the relationship between mirth and pathos?
Look Again: Questions for Book Clubs
- LOOK AGAIN really examines the notion of parenthood. What do you think makes someone a parent? Do you think the bond a child has with a non-biological parent can be as strong as one they would have with a biological parent? Why?
- Lisa's favorite quote is one from Eleanor Roosevelt, "A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong she is until she's in hot water." How does Ellen prove that she is a strong woman? Does Ellen remind you of anyone you know? Could you relate to Ellen, and did you like her? Why or why not?
- As a journalist, Ellen has a heightened need to find the truth. In this circumstance, was this a good thing, or a bad thing? What would you have done in Ellen's place? Would you have looked for the truth, even if it meant losing your son? What do you think were Ellen's motivations?
- The idea of "letting go" a child helped shape the whole premise of the book for Lisa, which led her to thinking about who really "owns" a child. Who do you think "owns" a child, and what exactly does that mean? If children actually "own" themselves, what then is the role of parents, and what are the limitations on parenthood?
- If the child you raised and loved with all your heart actually belonged to someone else, and you were the only one who knew, would you give the child up? How do you think those around you would react? Who in your life would agree with your decision, and who would have done the opposite?
- How would you describe Ellen's relationship with her father and how do you think it changed over the course of the book? Ellen considered her mother her go to parent. Do you think everyone has a go to parent, and what defines them as such?
- What effect do you think all the drama in Will's life will have on him in the future? Do you think things ultimately worked out to his benefit or detriment and why?
- How do you feel about single parents adopting children? What kind of, if any, additional requirements do you think should be put on single parents before they can adopt? How do you feel about open adoption? Is it better or worse for children? Is it better or worse for the adoptive parents? The biological parents? At what age do you think a child should be told they are adopted?
Lady Killer: Questions for Book Clubs
- In Lady Killer, Mary's high school nemesis comes to her for help. How do you think you would have reacted if you were Mary? Why do you think Mary felt compelled to help Trish?
- How important is high school to shaping who we become as adults? What was your high school experience like? Do you think you were more like Mary, Trish or neither of them? Do you think you can ever shed your high school image without moving out of the neighborhood?
- How would you compare Mary's friendship with Judy and Trish's friendship with her friends? How are they similar? How are they different? Who do you think make better friends?
- Judy is very instrumental in getting Mary to push for partnership at the firm. What do you think Judy's motivations were? Was it good advice? Why or why not? Do you think Mary is ready to be a partner? Why or why not?
- What kind of changes do you see in Mary as the book progressed? Do you think she is starting to grow up and become more confident, or just being reckless? Why?
- Mary closely identifies herself with her neighborhood. Do you think this is a good thing, or a bad thing? Why? How has it helped Mary? How has it hurt her?
- How did you react to Bennie's treatment of Mary? Do you think Bennie was justified? Do you think Mary made the right decision? What do you think will happen next?
- Both Mrs. DiNunzio and Mrs. Gambone have very close relationships with their daughters. Do you think one is a better mother than the other? Why? Who would you rather have as your mother? How do they compare to your own mother?
- Lady Killer is filled with old and new characters. Which ones would you like to see again?
Daddy's Girl: Questions for Book Clubs
- What was your reaction to the title of Daddy's Girl. Did it make you feel warm and fuzzy, or did it have a bad connotation for you? Do you think people's reaction to the title is influenced by their family dynamics or personal relationships with their fathers?
- Nat had a very close relationship with her family. Maybe too close for Nat. Do you think that Nat appreciated what she had? Was she being smothered by her family, or just loved a whole lot? Do you think anyone in her family really appreciated her, or the woman she had become? Is it natural in a family full of boys to overprotect yet disregard the only sister? Do we all take for granted our own family?
- Do you think Hank was truly in love with Nat, or the idea of being part of the Greco family? Can two people be in love, and yet, just not be right together? Do you think this was the case for Nat and Hank? Do you think Nat took the easy way out by dating Hank, who came already Daddy approved?
- Did you like Nat's mother? Did you feel she was supportive enough of Nat? By marrying Hank, would Nat have been creating the same kind of life as her mother? Would that be a bad thing? Do you think Nat and her mother's expectations are so different due to their individual personalities, or is it evidence of a generational gap?
- Nat faced a lot in this book and had to rely on her own instincts to survive. Is it just that she grew up, or did she find an inner strength that was being stifled by a family that took care of everything for her? Do you think parents should help their children with whatever they need, or should parents back off and let their kids learn the hard way? Where do you draw the line, and how do you know when it is time to step in or walk away?
- Nat had a real passion for her job, which ultimately helped save her. However, in the beginning of the book, her passion for her class, The History of Justice, was not translating into success as a teacher, and in fact, could have hurt her chances at tenure. How important is it to love what you do for a living? How much would you be willing to risk to have the job of your dreams? Does everyone even actually know what their dream job would be? Are you cheating yourself by taking a job just for the sake of bringing in a paycheck, or are you just living in the real world?
- Besides entertaining with her books, Lisa enjoys writing about things that interest her, and providing, perhaps, a little education as well. Do you enjoy this aspect of her books. Did you learn anything? Do you like the way it tied into the story. Did you find yourself wanting to read more about the topic?
- Did you like the end of the book? Were you surprised? Do you feel cheated by a book if you are not surprised? Did you agree with all of Nat's decisions? What would you plan next for Nat? Would you like to read more about her?
Dirty Blonde: Questions for Book Clubs
- Okay, let's get the important stuff up front. My hair is only fictionally blonde. Under all these chemicals, I am a dirty blonde. Do you think there are any real blondes over the age of 30? Do blondes really have more fun, or is that a function of advertisers getting us to by home-dye kits? (Like "Nice & Easy," which I used for years in my starving-writer days. My hair looked great. In the front.)
- Now more serious. Do you like Cate as a character, despite her flaws? What are her flaws, as you see them? Was she really even doing anything wrong, or was it just a case of poor judgment? And let's talk about sexism. Do you think that a man would have been as harshly punished for the same actions? Do you think she deserved what she got?
- Should judges, in general, be held to higher standards? Do you think a judge's personal life and personal beliefs influence the way he or she rules from the bench, or do you trust that they will stick to the law? Is there a difference between federal and state judges in this regard, assuming that federal judges get lifetime appointments, but most state judges do not? Do you think judges should be elected rather than appointed? Are you really informed about the judges in your state? How many judges can you name on your state supreme court? On the United States Supreme Court?
- Moving onto justice and fiction, do you think Cate's life was fair game for a TV show? Do you like the law shows that are "ripped form the headlines?" Why? Does TV cross the line when divulging the personal lives of public figures? Would you want to be famous and have the 24-hour scrutiny of the media? And isn't Al Pacino just great? Also Tom Cruise? Who would you rather have join your book club?
- Do you think the ruling in the Marz case was just? Do you understand why Cate didn't let the case go to the jury? Do you agree? Is justice always served by the law? Do you believe that Simone stole Marz's idea, or was Marz just looking to make a quick buck? Do you think that Marz was crazy for quitting his job to follow his dream? Are you better off risking what you have to follow your dream, so win or lose, you at least tried? Or are you better off not taking the risk and giving up your dream, no matter what the greeting cards say?
- Do you know anyone with an autistic child? Why do you think there are so many more cases of autism? Do you think parents of children with special needs get the support they need? Do you think they have it tougher than parents of "normal" children?
- Have you ever heard of Centralia, PA? Can you even believe that a fire has been burning underground for 60 years? Why do you think the government hasn't stepped in to contain this fire? Do you think the government worries more about the money than the health of the people?
- Were your surprised by the ending? Was justice served? Hot or cold?
Devil's Corner: Questions for Book Clubs
- Did you like Vicki, and are you happy or disappointed that the book features a new character instead of the regular girls at Rosato & Associates?
- Did anyone understand about the straw purchase? Did I do a lousy job making it clear enough? In case I did not make it clear, a straw purchase is when someone buys guns for the sole purpose of reselling them for drugs or cash.
- Do you think that drugs are a major factor in the decline of American cities? Do you think that we are doing enough to control drugs? Are we doing enough drug education, and does it work?
- How strong do you think is the correlation between drugs and crime? Do you believe in legalizing drugs? Do you think it would have a negative or positive impact on the crime rate?
- Is it fair to sacrifice a few innocent people to stop many crimes with projects such as Clean Sweep? Do we owe restitution to those who are unjustly accused?
- Did you like the girlfriend connection between Rehemma and Vicki? Do you think that two people from very different backgrounds can find a commonality for a lasting friendship?
- Do you think Dan and Vicki make a good couple? Do you think that people who work together should date? Do you think that Vicki crossed the line with Dan while he was married, even though they never had sexual contact prior to his wife leaving?
- Do you think that Vicki has finally earned her father's respect? Why, even as adults, do we strive for our parents' approval? Do you think that Vicki owed it to her father to join his law firm, or did she owe it to herself to follow her own path?
- Do you think that one or two people can make a difference and actually change a neighborhood around like Vicki and Rehemma? Do you think that there will ever again be a day when we can just send our children out to play, even in the wealthiest neighborhoods, the same carefree way our parents could?
- Were you surprised by the ending?
Killer Smile: Questions for Book Clubs
- Mary feels a little bit like "everywoman" to Lisa. Do you think this is true? Does it make her more believable? How about more likable? Can you see a bit of Mary in the women you know? Do their necks get red splotches when they are nervous too?
- Mary has reluctantly agreed to go on blind dates, most of which don't go well. Do you believe you can find true love on a blind date? Do you think your friends and family would be able to pick out the perfect mate for you? Do you have a horrific blind date story that you are willing to share? Did you like Mary with Bachelor #1, Bachelor #2, or Bachelor #3?
- Lisa got the idea for this book when she discovered her grandparents' alien registration cards. Were you surprised to learn that Italian Americans were interned during World War II? Do you think the government was justified in going to such extreme measures to allay the fears of Americans who were feeling threatened and vulnerable? Do you feel safe today, in your country? Where do you think the boundary is between the government's job to protect its citizens, and personal civil liberties?
- Mary and Judy have been through a lot together and have remained faithful friends. How far would you go for your best friend? Should your best friend accept you just the way you are, or do you rely on them for honest constructive criticism? Is it time for Mary to try and talk Judy into some fashion sense, and should Judy try to get Mary to let her hair down a bit and act more her age?
- Mary still seeks her parents' approval, although she is old enough to be a mother herself. Do you ever outgrow the need for your parents' approval?
- Mrs. DiNunzio faces a personal crisis that really gives Mary pause, and changes the whole dynamics of the family. How hard is it for a parent to relinquish the role of caregiver, and is it natural for the child to step into the role of the parent? Do you think Mary is ready to wield the wooden spoon?
- Is it time for Mary to get a boyfriend, or does she just need a pet? Do you think she was too obsessed with Amadeo and his case? Do you think she continued to work on the case just to satisfy her own needs, or do you think it was her desire to be a people pleaser, and not let down the whole neighborhood that drove her?
Dead Ringer: Questions for Book Clubs
- Coming up with good titles is very hard for Lisa, but she thought that Dead Ringer was the perfect title for a book about twins. However, after the book was done, she found out her kid and her kid's friends had never heard that expression. Did you understand the phrase? Can you think of a title that would have been better?
- In Dead Ringer, Alice does some really terrible things to Bennie to try to destroy her. In the process she even tries to hurt Bennie's dog, Bear. Is someone who would hurt a dog unredeemable? Does Alice deserve a second chance? Does everyone deserve a second chance?
- Is Alice a sympathetic character? Do you feel sorry for Alice because she was the twin who was given away? Does this make Alice's actions any more forgivable? Do you think Bennie's mother made the right decision in giving away one twin?
- In Dead Ringer, David comes to Bennie and Bear's rescue. Have you ever had a total stranger come to your rescue, just because they were a good person, and not because they were looking for something in return? Would you be able to willingly accept this kind of help, or would you be reluctant and suspicious?
- Alice is driven by both competitiveness and jealousy, which has led her to do some harmful, even horrific things. Some envy between siblings is normal, but where does it cross the line? Is it usually the parents' fault when siblings are so envious of one another? Is there something parents can do to promote greater harmony between siblings?
- Bennie takes a huge risk by putting her house up as collateral to save her business. Was this a smart move? Would you have been able to take that kind of risk? Do you think she would have made a different decision if she had children? Do you think that you have to take risks in order to be successful?
- Bennie does forgive Alice, despite everything she had done. Is this because Bennie is just a good, forgiving person, or do you think she is partially motivated by the guilt of being the chosen twin? Could you forgive Alice? Do you think she can really change? Do we let family get away with things that we would never put up with from others, or are we harder on them?
- Would you like to read about Alice again?
Courting Trouble: Questions for Book Clubs
- Anne Murphy is the newest addition to the all-female law firm of Rosato & Associates? How do you think she fits in? Would you like to work with all women? Would you like to have a woman boss? What are the advantages? What are the disadvantages?
- Anne is young and drop dead gorgeous, even though she doesn't see herself as beautiful. Is it possible to be that pretty and not really see it? How do Anne's looks work in her favor? Do beautiful people have it easier?
- Mary and Judy are not particularly nice to Anne? Why? Do they even give Anne a chance? Does Anne give them a chance? Is this an example of the usual getting-to-know-one-another when a new person starts at a firm or is something else going on?
- Anne can have almost any man she wants. Does this make her truly happy? Do you think that Anne can ever have a friendship with a girlfriend as close as that between Judy and Mary's? Can it be with Judy and Mary? Is three a crowd?
- In the book, Kevin suffers from erotomania. Do you buy into it, or is it just a fancy name for women-obsessed men? Do you believe that someone with this disorder can become violent enough to kill? How would you compare this to stalking? What do you think would work against a stalker?
- What do you think of Anne's playing dead? How do you feel about her letting the Rosato girls think she is dead? What reaction do Mary and Judy have to Anne's "death"? Do you think that Anne, Mary and Judy would have eventually formed a friendship without this experience?
- Do you think Anne will be able to trust a man again and if so, why? How can she protect herself better in the future? What kinds of things should women and men watch out for when deciding who to date?
- Were you surprised by the ending? Who else did you think it might be? Should Anne give her mother another chance? Will it help give Anne a sense of family and of belonging? How important is it to feel like you belong?
The Vendetta Defense: Questions for Book Clubs
- What is up with the pigeons? What kind of new kick is Lisa on? Why does she tells us so damn much about pigeons? Will she ever shut about pigeons? Does this matter to plot or character at all? Hint: Lisa is far smarter than she looks. Or acts.
- Should this book start on Chapter Two? Would we like it better? No hints. I really want to know what you think. Email me and sound off.
- Was Pigeon Tony right to do what he did? Would you have? Do you understand? Do you love/ hate the flashbacks?
- Why is Judy the star of this book? Is she good/bad/better/worse than other Scottoline heroines? Do you like her? Does it matter if you do?
- What about the Tonys? Are they in there for purpose or just wacky? What could possibly be the purpose? Should Judy trespass in the junkyard? Can you spell sfogatelle?
- How hunky is Frank? Does someone named Frank automatically come out hunky or is just me? Is it relevant that Frank is my father's name? Or is this just plain sick?
- Are the Coluzzi's, the Tonys, Frank and Pigeon Tony Italian stereotypes? Does it matter? Why? Does the Italian-ness of these characters matter, or is Lisa just trying to make a point about identity to further characterize her already sensational characterizations?
- Like the courtroom scenes or are you bored? Agree with the verdict or not? How would you have voted if you were on the jury?
- How many Scottoline characters are owned by golden retrievers?
Moment of Truth: Questions for Book Clubs
- In what way is the title Moment of Truth appropriate for the book? What do you think was the "moment of truth" in the book? If you think there was more than one, which was most critical to the book?
- Jack was willing to give his life in order to protect his daughter. Do you think that he was doing this for Paige out of love or just out of guilt, and why? To what lengths do you think a parent should go to protect their children?
- What do you think was Mary's obligation to her client? If she thought Jack was innocent, do you think she was legally, ethically, or morally responsible to prove him innocent? Why or why not? What do you think Mary should have done once she realized she was attracted to her client? Should she have stayed on the case, or passed it on to someone else?
- In what ways do you think being a child model helped Paige, and in what ways do you think it hurt her? How do you feel about children being models? What kind of regulations do you think should be in place to protect them? Do you think most child models are pursuing their own dreams or their parents' dreams?
- Do you think Paige should have been legally emancipated from her parents? Why or why not? Besides money, what other factors should be used to decide when a child is capable of living on his or her own? When do you think children are mature enough to manage their own finances?
- How did you feel about the tough decision Paige had to make at the end of the book? What do you think you would have done in her circumstance? Did you agree with her decision, and what do you think it says about her?
- What kind of father was Jack? What do you think his mistakes were? Do you think Jack let Paige down? Why or why not? What kind of relationship do you think Jack and Paige will have after everything that happened? What do you think parents have to do to make up for past mistakes they have made with their children?
- Where does Mary go to find refuge, and why do you think she goes there? Where do you go when you need extra support?
Mistaken Identity: Questions for Book Clubs
- Read the Acknowledgements. How weird is it that Lisa didn't know she had a half-sister? How often does this happen and not make it to Montel? Did it happen to anyone you know? And if something like that happened to you, would you put it in a book for the whole entire world to read about? Where do authors get their ideas and why don't they come up with better ones?
- When is a good story an invasion of privacy?
- Would you defend your twin on a murder charge? Should Bennie? Do you understand why she does?
- Is Grady hot enough for you? Is it weird that he's younger than Bennie?
- What is justice? Is it justice if Alice goes free, or not?
- This book is told in the third person, unlike Legal Tender which has a single point of view. Like it better or worse? Why did Lisa make this decision? Anything about the story, or was she just in the mood? You know how silly she can be.
- This boxing thing is a big part of the book. Do we like it? Why is it here? Does it inform character? How did Lisa do with her boxing lessons? Is it okay to say "sucks at boxing" in a book club?
- Do we like Lou?
- Why does Lisa put us through a parent's death? Is she just a big meanie?
- What did we think of the courtroom scenes? Agree with the verdict?
- Where did Alice go? Is she dead or will she come back? Hint: Heh heh.
Legal Tender: Questions for Book Clubs
- What do you think of Bennie? What do you like about her? What would you change? Who would you cast as Bennie, if they ever made Legal Tender into a movie?
- What likely caused the problems between Bennie and Mark? How do you think Bennie and Mark would have worked together after the break up? What does the way Mark handle things tell you about him? Do you think he has another choice, and if so, what?
- What do you think about the kind of work Bennie does? What impact do you think it has on the way the police handle her case? How do corrupt cops affect the legal system and why do you think some cops turn bad?
- Why are people so passionate about animals' rights? What cause would you actively fight for? How far would you go for your cause? How do you feel about violence in the name of a cause? Is it ever justified?
- To what extent is Bennie is responsible for her mother's care? Do you think she does the right thing by allowing her mother to be electroshocked? Why or why not?
- Do you think Sam is a good friend to Bennie? Why or why not? When a couple breaks up, how hard is it on the friends they share? How do you decide who gets to keep the friends? Do you think it is possible to remain friends with both people?
- What should Bennie do now? Do you think her experience has helped or hurt her relationship with the police? What kind of trust issues do you think Bennie will face? If you were Bennie, whom from the firm would you trust?
Running From the Law: Questions for Book Clubs
- Running From the Law was Lisa's first hardcover book. Do you prefer to read hardcovers or would you rather wait for the paperback? Is the print in the paperbacks too hard to read? Do you keep or pass on your books? Would you give away a hardcover?
- Lisa incorporated poker in her novel long before it became a new national pasttime. Are you as interested in poker as Rita Morrone? Why does she like it? What does it tell about her? Why are more women beginning to play? Are you worried about the new popularity of poker, especially among teens?
- Did you think Rita's stunt in the courtroom verged on dishonesty, or was it just good lawyering? Is all fair in love and lawsuits?
- Rita defends a judge against a sexual harrassment suit. Are these types of lawsuits out of control or are they important for protecting those who are being mistreated? Do you think people abuse the sexual harrassment laws, thus making it more difficult for those with legitimate complaints?
- Was Rita obligated to defend her boyfriend's father? Is it smart to defend a close relation? Do you think a client will be as honest with a lawyer with whom there is a personal relationship? Does it put the lawyer in a compromising position?
- Rita attends a funeral of a child killed by gang violence. Gang violence isn't funny. Consider this: Lisa went to an actual funeral of a child caught in gang crossfire, to write this chapter. She had her pick. That summer there was one funeral every weekend. Is enough being done to control gangs. Is better education the answer? Can the promotion of reading help keep kids off the street?
- What did you think of the gang of elderly poker players? Did they ring true? Were they important to the story? What do you think Rita got from their relationship? What did the old men get from the relationship? Does Rita really just need a good girlfriend?
- Do you agree with who Rita married? Was it clear at the end who she chose? What do you think made Tobin so attractive to Rita?
- Would you like to read more about Rita? What about her poker buddies? Is Rita the kind of person you would like to be friends with? Why or why not?
Final Appeal: Questions for Book Clubs
- Final Appeal is a winner of the Edgar Award, the highest honor for a mystery novel. What did you like the best about the book in terms of its plot, character, and structure? For example, did you think the characters were complex and the chapter endings suspenseful? Why or why not?
- What do you think about Grace's decision to have an affair with her married boss? If she had waited even one more day, until after divorce papers were filed, would that make you feel any different? How risky is a workplace romance, and where do you draw the line?
- Did you like Armen's character, and why or why not? Was he really a good guy? Did you agree with all of the decisions he made? How much of a factor was his Armenian background and upbringing on his decisions? Did you like the idea of Grace and Armen as a couple? Do you think he really could have fallen in love with Grace after only three months?
- All of the parents in Final Appeal are flawed, although some more than others. Grace has to face an ugly truth about her own parents and reevaluate her childhood. Did you agree with Grace when she questioned her daughter, or did you think she was being disloyal? How do you think her own childhood impacted her role as a mother? Should Grace forgive her father? Is it ever too late to rekindle a relationship with a parent?
- Why do you think Eletha is such a strong character? Did you like her, respect her, or agree with all her decisions? How did her decisions affect her child? Do you consider her a good mother and a good friend, and why?
- Sarah says "The death penalty is revenge masquerading as justice." What do you think about this statement? Do you think the defendant in the book deserved a second trial because the judge misread the directions to the jury, or is it just a loophole that will cost the taxpayers more money? The Hightower case plays an important role in the plot. If you were writing the end of the book, how would you have resolved the Hightower proceedings? Is it possible to separate law from justice, or law from morality?
- Why do you think Final Appeal has such an interesting cast of characters? Who was your favorite character, who did you dislike, and why? Do you think Grace and her new love have a future together, or it will be difficult for her to date while she has a young child? How soon should you introduce your child to someone you are dating? How hard is it for a single parent to find time for themselves, especially if they are working?
- Do you think judicial misconduct is widespread, or is it just a few bad apples? What do you think would help cut down on judicial bribery? For example, would it help if we gave judges a higher salary? Do we need to have a better system for tracking judiciary conduct, and if so, what would that system be like?
Everywhere That Mary Went: Questions for Book Clubs
- Everywhere That Mary Went is Lisa's very first book and it was nominated for an Edgar Award. It didn't win (but she did win for her second book, Final Appeal) but People Magazine called Lisa the "Female John Grisham." Do you agree or disagree? What makes you pick up a book? Cover? Endorsements from other writers? Reviews? The description on the book?
- Lisa believes you should write what you know, so Mary is a lot like her. In fact, Lisa and Mary both get red splotches on their necks when they are nervous. What else do we know about Mary? What kind of person is she? Is her character believable? How strong is her faith and how has that influenced her as a person and as a lawyer?
- Mary's family is the true center of her life. Is this a good thing? Can you be too close to your family? Do you like Mary's parents and do they remind you of people you know? How do you think Mary has been affected by her twin sister joining the convent?
- Mary and Judy are best of friends, despite how different they are. This friendship seems unshakable, but is it really? What kind of things must you agree on in order to have a solid friendship? Should you share everything with a best friend, or is it best to keep some things to yourself?
- Justice is a common theme that runs through all of Lisa's books. Is the law always just? How does Mary's conscience play into her sense of justice? Does justice matter? Is there justice in this book?
- Mary has suffered the loss of her husband at a very young age. How do you think grief has influenced her life? Do you think grief can help build character or destroy it? How long should someone grieve before they begin dating again? Are true friends measured by their availability during the grieving process, or is it understandable if people have difficulty dealing with death?
- Do you like Ned? Do you like Mary with Ned? How smart is an office romance? Is Mary really ready to date? Will she ever be able to move on from Mike? Should she?
- Lisa thinks she made a huge, rookie-type mistake in this book. This is in addition to Too Much Cursing, which she has eliminated in her later books. What do you think it is? Email Lisa and take a guess at what she thinks was a mistake.