Books-A-Million at the Mills

A bit steep, but I wasn’t too shocked. Most bookstores with cafes are a bit on the pricey side, but so is a free standing Starbucks.

The cake was pretty commercial. It was a bit tough, cold, thick, and chewy. It had a good flavor but could have used a quick zap in the microwave and a hefty scoop of vanilla ice cream. The Vanilla Cream Frappe made up for it though. It did not taste like the Starbucks Frappucino at all. And it was not the typical vanilla flavor. And…it didn’t last long.

I sat for a moment, enjoying my refreshments, and desided to write my essay about the store like the awful muzak that was playing overhead. The cafe wasn’t busy at all but offered a nice place to sit and chill. I also noticed the advertising – from James Patterson’s Tick Tock right there on my drink sleeve to the table tents advertising Free WiFi and Kim Edward’s The Lake of Dreams. Like the store itself, all of the advertising was alike in presentation and very uniform giving the overall look of the store once of completeness.

Overall, this store is definitely one of the chains I’d return to again and again. This was the first time I’d really explored every aisle in the store and the different sections they have to offer. It’s also the first chain store where an associate spoke to me. And not only is there an awesome selection, but there are deals everywhere to be found.

Some of the tables in the middle aisle included Buy Two Get One Free Trade Paperbacks and another table advertising “10% Off for Everyone – 20% Off for Members,” so there is some kind of membership offered (like B&N) although I didn’t look into the details of it.

Another “Fun and Fascinating” table almost made me laugh out loud because there was Russell Brand’s Booky Wook 2 right next to Tucker Max’s Assholes Finish First – two books I definitely won’t be reading, but I definitely find them “fascinating.”

The Bargain section alone is probably three times the size of any Borders or B&N that I’ve visited so far. And the magazine section is probably ten times as big. Let’s not forget that it is in a shopping (outlet) mall so there’s plenty of other places to go all in the same building.

Since this is the only location in St. Louis, it’s also worth a trip because it’s definitely different from the other chains we have. In my personal opinion, the selection is larger and nicer, the employees are friendlier, and the overall atmosphere is much different than how Borders or B&N has branded itself. You don’t have to guess by now that I would definitely visit this store again!


Continuing  Part 1 
Rick Wolff – host of The Sports Edge on WFAN Radio (NY) and Executive Editor of Grand Central Publishing


Marty Appel – baseball writer and public relations executive for the New York Yankees whose newest book, Pinstripe Empire, was released in May 2012.


Ayla Battistoni – relationship and intimacy educator; participant on Fifty Shades of Grey book panel


Natalie Charles – Harlequin Romantic Suspense author and winner of the 2011 Mills & Boon’s New Voices Competition


Kristen Cusato – former co-anchor of Good Morning Connecticut on WTNH News 8


Rosalyn Dischiavo, MA, EdD – founder of the Institute for Sexuality and participant on Fifty Shades panel


Carlos Eire – Yale professor whose memoir Waiting for Snow in Havana won the US Nat. Book Award


Tess Gerritsen – internationally bestselling author and creator of the Rizzoli & Isles series on TNT


Wick Griswold – University of Hartford professor and author of A History of the Connecticut River


Anita Hoffer, PhD, EdD – former Harvard professor and sexual coach; participant on Fifty Shades book panel


Roger LaFrancois- Former Major League player and real-life character in Dan Barry’s acclaimed novel, Bottom of the 33rd


Erika Marks – author of the acclaimed novel, Little Gale Gumbo, and new book, The Mermaid Collector


Mary McGarry Morris – author of Songs in Ordinary Time, an Oprah’s book selection made into a CBS movie


Chris Pagliuco – author of The Great Escape of Edward Whalley and William Goffe, published by The History Press


Ronald Schouten, MD, JD – Harvard Medical School professor, attorney and author of Almost a Psychopath


Adam Sexton – Director of NYU Writing Program at the School of Continuing and Professional Studies, author


Brian Trent– discussion leader for The Big Book Club Share, sponsored by CT Humanities


Laura Vianna – of Reading Group Choices, the leading developer of resources to enhance shared reading experiences


Anita August – author of Gut Bucket Blues and Director of Writing Programs at Sacred Heart University


Jeffrey Brown, PsyDDr. – Author of The Winners Brain and Think Positive for Great Health


Todd Civin – author of One Letter at a Time, the inspirational story of Team Hoyt


Kathy Czepiel – author of A Violet Season and creative writing teacher at Quinnipiac University


Franz Douskey – Pulitzer Prize nominated author of West of Midnight and Sinatra and Me: The Very Good Years


Hallie Ephron – psychological suspense author whose novels have been adapted for Lifetime Movie Network


Leeza Gibbons – iconic American talk show host, author and philanthropist
Wendy Haggerty, MS, MFTWendy Haggerty – founder of Sex & Love Therapy; moderator of Fifty Shades of Grey book panel


Walt Hriniak – one of the most prominent batting coaches in the history of baseball with the Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox


Gwen Lawrence- yoga instructor for the NY Giants, NY Yankees, professional athletes and celebrities


Brad Meltzer – #1 bestselling author of political suspense novels and host of TV show, Decoded


Amy Newmark – Publisher of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series
Tish RabeTish Rabe – bestselling children’s book author of The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library series


Patricia Schultz – author of 1000 Places to See Before You Die with over 3 million copies in print in 25 languages


Joseph Shrand, MD – Harvard professor, doctor and author of Manage Your Stress J

Julia Usher – celebrated pastry chef, writer, stylist and author of Cookie Swap and Ultimate Cookies


Matthew Warshauer, PhD – author of Connecticut in the American Civil War and moderator of The History Press panel


We are thrilled to introduce our exciting lineup of authors and presenters who will join us at the first Big Book Club Getaway, February 1-2, 2013, at the fabulous Mohegan Sun Resort.  Brad Meltzer, Leeza Gibbons, Kristin van Ogtrop (Managing Editor of Real Simple Magazine), Tess Gerritsen, Mary McGarry Morris, Carlos Eire, Hallie Ephron, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Patricia Schultz, Gina Barreca and Amy Newmark (Publisher of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series) … to name just a few.

There will be general sessions with some of the biggest names in pop culture, and concurrent breakout sessions with fiction, non-fiction, memoir, cooking, sports, self-help, historical and educational writers.  Don’t miss panel discussions with Harvard Medical doctors, college professors, acclaimed sports writers and The History Press … there’s even a panel of sex therapists who will run a book chat on The Fifty Shades of Grey series.  Day Two will kick-off with a huge yoga class run by Gwen Lawrence, instructor to The New York Giants, New York Yankees and Hollywood celebrities.


Kessica Andersen – Harlequin Intrigue author of over 30 novels


Gina Barreca – American author, humorist and professor of English Literature at UConn


Shelley Carson, PhD – Harvard Health Press author of Your Creative Brain


Susan Conley – author of The Foremost Good Fortune, listed as an Oprah Magazine Top Ten Pick


Mark DeJohn – former member of Tony LaRussa’s coaching staff and long-time St. Louis Cardinals coach


Robert L. Doyle, MD, DDSDr. – Harvard Medical School doctor and author of Almost Alcoholic


Wilson Faude – author of Hidden History of Connecticut; former curator of the Mark Twain Museum


David Gillham – author of the new novel, City of Women, about Berlin during World War II


Patricia Harman – author of The Midwife of Hope River published by Harper Collins
J.A. Jance- New York Times bestselling author of the Ali Reynolds, J.P. Beaumont and Joanna Brady series


Eric Lehman and Amy Nawrocki – English professors at Univ. of Bridgeport and History Press authors


Dodie Milardo – moderator of the Harlequin Romance panel, host of the radio show Dodie’s Talk, and local romance author


Teresa M. Norris – local author, who shares her personal journey of dealing with a parent with dementia


Hank Phillippe Ryan – investigative reporter for Boston’s NBC-TV affiliate and author of The Other Woman


Kieran Scott – Young adult author of He’s So / She’s So Trilogy, The Cheerleader Trilogy and Geek Magnet


Gary Small M.D. – author of The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program and professor at UCLA
Kristin van OgtropKristin van Ogtrop – Managing Editor of Real Simple Magazine and author of Just Let Me Lie Down


Handful of Suggested Titles for Book Clubs Part 3

Continuing after Part 2   THE MERMAID COLLECTOR by Erika Marks
More than a century ago, lighthouse keeper Linus Harris left his beloved wife and waded into the ocean with three other men to reunite with their mermaid lovers. The mysterious Mermaid Mutiny of 1888 has become legend for the residents of Cradle Harbor, Maine, honored by the town’s Mermaid Festival every August, when wind chimes are hung from seaside porches to drown out the alluring sound of mermaid song.

For thirty-five-year-old Tess Patterson, the legend is more than folklore; it’s proof of life’s magic. A hopeless romantic who is profoundly connected to the ocean in which she lost her mother, Tess ekes out a living as a wood-carver and longs to find a love as mystical as the sea. But when she’s hired to carve the commemorative mermaid sculpture for the coming festival, a chance to win the town’s elusive acceptance might finally be in her grasp.

For Tom Grace, life’s magic was lost at eighteen, when the death of his parents left him to care for his reckless brother, Dean. Now thirty-five and the new owner of Cradle Harbor’s prized lightkeeper’s house, Tom hopes the quiet town will calm Dean’s self-destructive ways. But when Tom discovers Tess working on her sculpture, an unlikely and passionate affair ignites between them that just might be the stuff of legend itself—even as it brings to the surface a long-buried secret that could tear everything apart.

THE INNER CIRCLE by Brad Meltzer
Beecher White, a young archivist, spends his days working with the most important documents of the U.S. government. He has always been the keeper of other people’s stories, never a part of the story himself…

When Clementine Kaye, Beecher’s first childhood crush, shows up at the National Archives asking for his help tracking down her long-lost father, Beecher tries to impress her by showing her the secret vault where the President of the United States privately reviews classified documents. After they accidentally happen upon a priceless artifact – a 200 hundred-year-old dictionary that once belonged to George Washington, hidden underneath a desk chair, Beecher and Clementine find themselves suddenly entangled in a web of deception, conspiracy, and murder.

Soon a man is dead, and Beecher is on the run as he races to learn the truth behind this mysterious national treasure. His search will lead him to discover a coded and ingenious puzzle that conceals a disturbing secret from the founding of our nation. It is a secret, Beecher soon discovers, that some believe is worth killing for.

Gripping, fast-paced, and filled with the fascinating historical detail for which he is famous, THE INNER CIRCLE is a thrilling novel that showcases a brilliant author writing at the height of his craft.  Any of Meltzer’s books make great book club reads!

Songs in Ordinary Time takes place in Vermont in 1960. A strong but vulnerable woman whose loneliness and ambition for her children make her easy prey for a dangerous man. This book is a masterful epic; an Oprah Book Club selection which is pure magic and more than worthy of its many awards.

THE OTHER WOMAN by Hank Phillippi Ryan
A new series is created by author Ryan to introduce us to reporter Jane Ryland. After being fired by her TV station, she lands a job on a Boston newspaper with the help of  police detective Brogan. Determined to claw her way back, Jane finds interesting implications in a political campaign trail. Soon tensions build as she discovers her interest in Detective Brogan is more than business. Meanwhile bodies keep turning up in the Charles River and some think it the work of a serial killer. Our detective disagrees.  This is the novel we will be discussing at Books and Bars; mandatory reading

JUST LET ME LIE DOWN by Kristen Van  Ogtrop
A collection of hilarious work/life words to live by written by the Managing Editor of Real Simple Magazine, this book is filled with madcap parenting moments in the life of a working mother. The reader shares all the printed word and is enticed to turn each page faster and faster. You will whip through this delightful book in a few days…have fun!

Handful of Suggested Titles for Book Clubs Part2

COME AND FIND ME by Hallie Ephron
Computer security expert and reformed hacker Diana Highsmith has not ventured beyond her home for more than a year—not since that fateful climbing vacation in Switzerland took Daniel’s life. Haunted by the sound of Daniel’s cries echoing across the gorge as he fell, Diana cannot stop thinking about the life they’ll never have—grief that has transformed her into a recluse.

Diana doesn’t have to shut herself off com­pletely from the world, though; she and Daniel’s best friend run a thriving Internet security company. From her home, in her pajamas, Diana assesses security breaches, both potential and real, and offers clients a way to protect themselves from hackers—the kind of disruptions Diana herself used to create. Once Diana has a game plan she is able to meet with clients in OtherWorld, an Internet-based platform, using Nadia, an avatar she created for herself. Diana knows she’ll have to rejoin the “real world” eventually, but right now a few steps from her door each morning is all she can handle.

When Diana’s sister goes missing, however, she is forced to do the impossible: brave both the outside world and her own personal demons to find her sister. As one step outside leads to another, Diana soon discovers that she is following a trail fraught with danger—and uncovering a web of deceit and betrayal, both online and real-life, that threatens not only her sister’s life, but her own.

LAST TO DIE by Tess Gerritsen
This is Tess Gerritsen’s tenth Rizzoli and Isles crime series novel and is mandatory reading.  Fantasy comes to life as three surviving orphans of different family massacres connive to bring down the killer.  Suspense keeps you on the edge of your seat!

CITY OF WOMEN by David Gillham

An excellent first novel going back in time to the height of World War ll as men in Berlin are fighting and dying while the women carry on.  Sigrid, a German soldier’s wife, finds herself immersed in an underground Resistance world and her life is turned upside dawn.  A compelling read saturated with gripping suspense, romance and secrets.


Set in Appalachia during the Depression, midwife Patience Murphy finds herself in rural West Virginia attending the births of the rich and poor.  The reader feels the miracle of birth and Patience’s story is fascinating as she ministers to a surprisingly diverse community.

Honest, moving and beautifully detailed, this book rings with authenticity. From the dangerous mines of West Virginia to the terrifying attention of the Ku Klux Klan, Patience must strive to bring new light and life into an otherwise hard world. The novel details the past and gives hope to a future embracing the goodness of humanity.

The latest in the popular Ali Reynolds series, this book is a must have. Arizona’s troubled border with Mexico as a backdrop for a story in which one of Al’s classmates from the Arizona Police Academy is shot, and then suspected of participating in cross border drug trade. Excitement from the first page on.

Handful of Suggested Titles for Book Clubs

Below are just a handful of suggested titles for Book Clubs, selected by The Big Book Club Getaway team.  Each of these authors will be participating in the event and discussing their work.  Many of these authors have written multiple novels that would be great book club reads.  Feel free to bring your books to the event for the presenters to sign.

GUT BUCKET BLUES by Anita August
This book is the story of a precocious boy who lives in a blues bar called in the French Quarter of New Orleans. His quest for self-identity is compromised by the destruction force of his father, a blues god, and ghost conjurer. Anita August draws a remarkable portrait of the musicality of African American oral vernacular traditions and the myths and poetry of New Orleans.

Conley and her family say goodbye to Portland, Maine and travel to Beijing for the next two years ready to grow as a family by experiencing a different lifestyle and culture.  Life in China requires monumental adjustments and then Conley learns that she has cancer.   A beautiful read celebrating family, mortality and a courageous young woman. Listed as an Oprah Magazine Top Ten Pick.

A VIOLET SEASON by Kathy Leonard Czepiel
The violet industry is booming in 1898, and a Hudson Valley farm owned by the Fletcher family is turning a generous profit for its two oldest brothers. But Ida Fletcher, married to the black sheep youngest brother, has taken up wet nursing to help pay the bills, and her daughter, Alice, has left school to work. As they risk losing their share of the farm, the two women make increasingly great sacrifices for their family’s survival, sacrifices that will set them against each other in a lifelong struggle for honesty and forgiveness. A Violet Season is the story of an unforgettable mother-daughter journey in a time when women were just waking to their own power and independence. Language is rich and detailed.  Historical fiction at its best!


Winner of the National Book Award, Eire writes a powerful memoir detailing his exile from Cuba at the early age of 11.   Along with 14,000 children, Eire was airlifted out of Cuba during the revolution.  His spirit however, never leaves his native land even after becoming a “modern American man”.  A moving story not easily forgotten.

Books and Bars a Night-Time Book Club

Books and Bars is a night-time book club show, providing a unique atmosphere for a lively discussion of interesting authors, fun people, good food and social lubrication (liquid courage). Moderator Jeff Kamin is coming all the way from Minnesota to host the show, sponsored by the Mohegan Sun, to be held at Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, February 1.   Free admission with your Big Book Club Getaway ticket!

Jeff Kamin moderates and produces Books & Bars in Minneapolis, St. Paul and Chanhassen, Minnesota which combines literary discussions with liberal drinking. He’s also the Senior Producer of Performance Programs at Minnesota Public Radio and an emcee and trivia host. Jeff has been doing Books & Bars for 9 years; prior to that he was an improvisational comedian in Los Angeles and worked for Jersey Films and Danny DeVito.

Be sure to read Hank Phillippi Ryan’s new book, The Other Woman, which will be our topic for Books and Bars.

Hank Phillippi Ryan is an investigative reporter for Channel 7 News on WHDH-TV, the NBC-affiliate station for Boston, Massachusetts. She is also an author of mystery novels. Ryan has won 28 Emmy Awards and 12 Edward R. Murrow Awards for her investigative and consumer reporting.

Bobby Flay’s Bar Americain, conveniently located off the hotel lobby, celebrates our country’s diverse culinary heritage, inspired by Bobby’s extensive travels throughout America. The Raw Bar offers fresh seafood selections ranging from Shrimp Cocktail with Bobby’s signature Tomatillo sauce to the “Deluxe,” a multi-tiered platter that will satisfy all of your shellfish cravings. You will also find hand-selected steaks, served with  house made Steak Sauce, the most flavorful and highest quality beef available in New England. A full complement of boldly flavored appetizers, entrées and side dishes complete the Regional American menu that features dishes which showcase the wealth of ingredients and traditions of New England.  Cash bar.