Enchantress of Numbers:  A Novel of Ada Lovelace
Jennifer Chiaverini, 2017
Penguin Publishing
448 pp.
ISBN-13:
9781101985205


Summary
The fascinating life of the world’s first computer programmer Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace—a woman whose exceptional contributions to science and technology have gone unsung for too long.
 
The only legitimate child of Lord Byron, the most brilliant, revered, and scandalous of the Romantic poets, Ada was destined for fame long before her birth.

Estranged from Ada’s father, who was infamously "mad, bad, and dangerous to know," Ada’s mathematician mother is determined to save her only child from her perilous Byron heritage.

Banishing fairy tales and make-believe from the nursery, Ada’s mother provides her daughter with a rigorous education grounded in mathematics and science. Any troubling spark of imagination — or worse yet, passion or poetry — is promptly extinguished. Or so her mother believes.
 
When Ada is introduced into London society as a highly eligible young heiress, she at last discovers the intellectual and social circles she has craved all her life. Little does she realize that her delightful new friendship with inventor Charles Babbage — brilliant, charming, and occasionally curmudgeonly — will shape her destiny.

Intrigued by the prototype of his first calculating machine, the Difference Engine, and enthralled by the plans for his even more advanced Analytical Engine, Ada resolves to help Babbage realize his extraordinary vision, unique in her understanding of how his invention could transform the world.

All the while, she passionately studies mathematics — ignoring skeptics who consider it an unusual, even unhealthy pursuit for a woman — falls in love, discovers the shocking secrets behind her parents’ estrangement, and comes to terms with the unquenchable fire of her imagination.
 
In Enchantress of Numbers, New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Chiaverini unveils the passions, dreams, and insatiable thirst for knowledge of a largely unheralded pioneer in computing — a young woman who stepped out of her father’s shadow to achieve her own laurels and champion the new technology that would shape the future. (From the publisher.)



Author Bio
Birth—1969
Raised—Ohio, Michigan, and Southern California (USA)
Education—B.A., University of Notre Dame; University of Chicago
Currently—lives in Madison, Wisconsin


Jennifer Chiaverini is an American quilter and author. She is best known for writing the Elm Creek Quilts novels. In 2013, in a departure from her quilting novels, she published Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker.

Growing up one of three children, Chiaverini lived in Ohio, Michigan and Southern California. She loved to read all genres, but ultimately fell in love with historical fiction. "My parents indulged my storytelling. I’ve wanted to write since I was young." The desire to quilt came later.

A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago, she is also a former writing instructor at Penn State and Edgewood College. She lives with her husband and two sons in Madison, Wisconsin.

In addition to the seventeen volumes of the Elm Creek Quilts series, she is the author of four volumes of quilt patterns inspired by her novels, as well as the designer of the Elm Creek Quilts fabric lines from Red Rooster Fabrics. (From Wikipedia.)



Book Reviews
Cherished Reader, Should you come upon Enchantress of Numbers by Jennifer Chiaverini…consider yourself quite fortunate indeed…Chiaverini makes a convincing case that Ada Byron King is a woman worth celebrating.
USA Today


[A] fascinating homage.
Real Simple


While Lovelace may not have received the credit she was due in her own time-period, Chiaverini’s novel stands as a fitting ode to one of the greatest women in the history of science.
Harper's Bazaar


Chiaverini writes captivating stories of forgotten women in history, including that of the young math and science genius Ada Lovelace, responsible for writing the world’s first-ever computer code.… Chiaverini brings [Ada Lovelace] to life around you.
Bustle


Ada finally achieves her goals, going on to develop … the first computer, though it took the world nearly a century to recognize her achievements. Verdict: After a slow start, Chiaverini deftly draws a compelling study of a complicated woman. —Cynthia Johnson, formerly with Cary Memorial Lib., Lexington, MA
Library Journal


[An] exquisite biographical novel.… [A] quintessential example of the form.… Wholeheartedly recommended for historical-fiction fans and STEM enthusiasts.
Booklist


[An] emotionally neglected child became a…profoundly talented and imaginative mathematician. [The] novel … charts Ada’s discovery of her own talents…. A compelling yet heartbreaking homage to the mother of computer science.
Kirkus Reviews



Discussion Questions
1. How do you think the loneliness and isolation of Ada’s childhood and her mother’s jealousy of the nurses Ada loves affect her as she grows into adolescence?

2. What is it about flight that captivates Ada’s imagination? The scientific aspects of Flyology fascinate her, of course, but what else could Ada’s desire to create wings for herself represent?

3. How does her status as the daughter of the renowned poet Lord Byron shape Ada’s life? What is it like growing up in the shadow of his brilliance and infamy? What similarities and differences do you see between Ada’s experiences and those of the children of celebrities today?

4.  Why do you think Ada’s mother was so fearful of Ada’s imagination and "the influence of [her] bad Byron blood?" Why does she forbid her daughter to indulge in fairy tales, poetry, and make-believe play, even though she herself writes poetry?

5. The first time Ada visits Babbage’s home, she is introduced to his dancing automaton, which arrests her attention. She draws closer to it, "longing to trace the lines of the dancer’s face with my fingertip. Even her eyes seemed alive, full of mischief and imagination." Why was she so fascinated by the Silver Lady?

6. After an argument with her mother, Ada muses, "I realized that the only way I could escape her control any sooner would be to marry." What are Ada’s expectations for marriage? Are they fulfilled? Does she enjoy more independence or less as a married woman, or are her circumstances essentially unchanged?

7. Ada mentions that Mrs. Somerville, though very accomplished in science and mathematics, was barred from the Royal Society because she was a woman. How is Ada affected by this? Does she feel the loss of this exclusion? Why or why not?

8. Why do you think Ada was so enthralled by Babbage’s inventions, both the Difference Engine and the Analytical Engine? How does Ada’s poetic and imaginative mind help her understand their potential even more so than Babbage himself?

9. At various periods throughout her life, friends and family worry that Ada is dangerously obsessed with mathematics and science, often describing her pursuit of knowledge as a "mania." Ada fiercely rejects this label. Do you agree with Ada, or do you think her friends and family had some cause for concern? Why or why not?

10. Compare and contrast Ada and Lord King’s courtship to her mother and Lord Byron’s and their early years of marriage.

11. Ada’s love for her mother wavers between reverence and resentment. How does this affect Ada’s own childrearing?

12. All her life, Ada has been told that her foremost duty is to marry and produce an heir. Why is this not enough for her? Why is she driven to create a "Great Work" of mathematics or science as her legacy? 
(Questions issued by the publisher.)

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Happy People Read and Drink Coffee 
Agnes Martin-Lugand, 2014 (trans., Sandra Smith, 2016)
Hachette Book Group
256 pp.
ISBN-13:
9781602863163


Summary
The international phenomenon described as Under the Tuscan Sun set in Ireland, about a recent widow who moves to the Irish coast and begins a tumultuous but ultimately healing relationship with her neighbor, a brooding Irish photographer. Also out now: the bestselling sequel, Don't Worry, Life is Easy.

Diane seems to have the perfect life. She is a wife, mother, and the owner of Happy People Read and Drink Coffee, a cozy literary café in Paris. But when she suddenly loses her husband and daughter in a car accident, the world as she knows it disappears.

One year later, Diane moves to a small town on the Irish coast, determined to heal by rebuilding her life alone-until she meets Edward, a handsome and moody photographer, and falls into a surprising and tumultuous romance.
But will it last when Diane leaves Ireland for good? At once heartbreaking and uplifting, Diane's story is deeply felt, reminding us that love remembered is love enduring. (From the publisher.)



Author Bio
After six years as a clinical psychologist, Agnes Martin-Lugand now devotes herself to writing full-time. She is also the author of Happiness Slips Through My Fingers and the sequel to Happy People Read and Drink Coffee (2014) — Don't Worry, Life Is Easy (2015). (From the publisher.)



Book Reviews
Agnes Martin-Lugand has…the gift of making us love a charming yet flawed heroine.
Elle (France)


A heartbreaking story of love and loss that will twist readers up in knots.… Essential for any foreign literature or women's fiction collection.
Library Journal


Think of every cliched rom-com starring a beautiful woman who falls in love with a brooding man, and you can predict which beat will be hit next in the endlessly derivative Happy People Read And Drink Coffee.
Aux/AV


Martin-Lugand's sparse but emotionally forceful style, aided by Smith's translation from the original French, catches the sweeter moments between two people embittered by loss.
Kirkus



Discussion Questions
The below questions were graciously submitted to LitLovers by Shelley Holley, M.L.S of the Southington (Conn.) Library. Thank you, Shelley!

1. What did you think of the book?

2. Did you think the title was misleading?

3. What do you think of Diane and Felix’s relationship, do you think he does too much for her?

4. Are Diane’s parents realistic about wanting her to return their home?

5. Was Diane’s decision to go to Ireland a good idea?

6. What do you think about Jack and Abby relationship with Edward?

7. How did you like the way the author described Mulranny, did it make you want to visit?

8. Do you think Diane’s feelings for Edward are real or just a way to get over her loss?

9. Is Diane’s return to Paris smart or should she have stayed in Ireland?

10. Do you think she can be happy again back in Paris?

(Questions by Shelley Holley, M.L.S. at the Southington, Conn., Library. Please feel free to use them, online and off, with attribution to both Shelley and LitLovers. Thanks.)

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The Revolution of Marina M. 
Janet Fitch, 2017
Little, Brown
816 pp.
ISBN-13:
9780316022064


Summary
From the mega-bestselling author of White Oleander, a sweeping historical saga of the Russian Revolution, as seen through the eyes of one young woman.

St. Petersburg, New Year's Eve, 1916.
Marina Makarova is a young woman of privilege who aches to break free of the constraints of her genteel life, a life about to be violently upended by the vast forces of history.

Swept up on these tides, Marina will join the marches for workers' rights, fall in love with a radical young poet, and betray everything she holds dear, before being betrayed in turn.

As her country goes through almost unimaginable upheaval, Marina's own coming-of-age unfolds, marked by deep passion and devastating loss, and the private heroism of an ordinary woman living through extraordinary times.

This is the epic, mesmerizing story of one indomitable woman's journey through some of the most dramatic events of the last century. (From the publisher.)



Author Bio
Birth—November 9, 1956
Where—Los Angeles, California, USA
Education—B.A., Reed College
Currently—lives in Los Angeles


Janet Fitch is an American author most famously known her 1999 novel White Oleander, which was chosen as an Oprah's Book Club pick the year it came out. The novel was adapted to film in 2002. Other novels followed: Paint it Black in 2006 and The Revolution of Marina M. in 2017.


Janet Fitch was born in Los Angeles, a third-generation native, and grew up in a family of voracious readers. She is a graduate of Reed College, located in Portland, Oregon. As an undergraduate, she had decided to become a historian, attracted to its powerful narratives, the scope of events, the colossal personalities, and the potency and breadth of its themes.

But when she won a student exchange to Keele University in England, where her passion for Russian history led her, she awoke in the middle of the night on her twenty-first birthday with the revelation she wanted to write fiction.

Currently, Fitch is a faculty member in the Master of Professional Writing Program at the University of Southern California, where she teaches fiction.

Two of her favorite authors are Fyodor Dostoevsky and Edgar Allan Poe. (Adapted from Wikipedia. Retrieved 2/14/2017.)



Book Reviews
[A] vast, ambitious historical tale.… Marina, the reader [eventually] concludes, is not a true revolutionary; she is tossed like flotsam by great events; the the novel would benefit if she were more a participant.… [S]omewhere in the middle of its 800 pages, this novel loses any semblance of [the author's] 19th century forbear's sense of narrative control. That said, the feral descriptions of sex provide some of the novel's most amusing, if decidedly unDostoyevskian, moments.
Simon Sebag Montefiore - New York Times Book Review


[A] question that haunts the story…what is this book about?… Many books, especially those requiring 800 pages of time from their readers, would be undone by the absence of a clear purpose. And yet, astonishingly, The Revolution of Marina M. is hard to put down. Like Marina, it is maddening and flawed. It makes a good many bad decisions. And yet it is charming and lively and, ultimately, worth the time.
Trine Tsouderos - Chicago Tribune


Marina M is a budding 16-year-old poet on the eve of the 1917 October revolution, when the Bolsheviks take power. Fitch creates a virtual magic lantern show of the following three years of turmoil, immersing Marina in each scene. She begins a love affair with Kolya, a mercurial officer secretly involved in the lucrative black market. She moves in with Genya, a poet in a futurist commune. She plays dangerous games with her childhood friend Varvara, who becomes a Cheka commissar. Her father is involved with a counter-revolutionary plot; her mother inspires a spiritualist cult that withdraws into the countryside to escape the Red Terror and cholera epidemic. Marina is by turns adventurous, foolish, romantic, self-destructive and courageous in this extraordinary coming-of-age tale.
Jane Ciabbatari - BBC Culture


[A]n epic bildungsroman.… The resilient Marina has much in common with the modern heroines of the author’s previous books and is a protagonist worth following. However, even though the book is well researched, the overlong narrative peters out.
Publishers Weekly


Fitch captures the epic grandeur of Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy…. Yet she also infuses her protagonists with transgressive sexual energy…. Verdict: Readers…will thrill to this narrative of women in love during the cataclysm of war. —Barbara Conaty, Falls Church, VA
Library Journal


Fitch's novel…provides an excellent sense of history's unpredictability and shows how the desperate pursuit of survival leads to morally compromising decisions.… [C]inematic storytelling and Marina's vibrant personality are standout elements in this dramatic novel. —Sarah Johnson
Booklist



Discussion Questions
We'll add publisher questions if and when they're available; in the meantime, please use our LitLovers talking points to help start a discussion for The Revolution of Marina M. … then take off on your own:

1. Describe Marina. Early on in the novel, she leads a life of privilege, yet she is dissatisfied. Why? What does she want? (Okay, sex...but what else?)  Do you admire her? In what ways does Marina change over the course of the novel?

2. Follow-up to Question 1: Near the beginning of the novel, Marina says,

I was in love with the Future, in love with the idea of Fate. There's nothing more romantic to the young — until its dogs sink their teeth into your calf and pull you to the ground.

Do you think she is correct: that the idea of future or fate (which one is she actually referring to … or is it both?) is exciting to the young? As you read through the novel, at what point did fate stop being romantic for Marina? When did the the dogs start to "sink their teeth into [her] calf"? By the end of the novel, has Marina changed? In her outlook? Or in her essential character traits? What, if anything, has she learned?

3. What is the political state of Russia early on in the book? Marina describes history as "the sound of a floor underneath a rotten regime, termite-ridden and ready to fall." She is obviously referring to the government of the Czar. In what way is the regime "rotten" and "ready to fall"?

4. Why are the reforms offered up by Premier Prince Lvov — the promise of freedom of speech and assembly, the right to strike, and elections by ballot — insufficient for the radicals? What causes the provisional government to fail?

5. Talk about the effect that Leon Trotsky has as he addresses the crowd at the Cirque Moderne. Is he a typical demagogue out for power and self-aggrandizement? Or does he offer genuine path of reform for the Russian people?

6. What do you think of Marina's best friend Varvara and their relationship? In the fervor of revolution, was Varvara right or wrong in persuading Marina to spy on her father? And what about her father's outing of his daughter?

7. Describe the conditions of life for the population in the months following the October 17 overthrow? How grim is it?

8. Baron Arkady von Princip. Care to talk about him? What was your experience reading about the S&M he subjects Marina to?

9. Returning to the quotation in Question 2 — about how youthful romanticism can turn into a vicious animal — what do you see as the thematic concern of The Revolution of Marina M.? Is it how young people come of age in the midst of life's trials? Is it what happens to bonds of love and loyalty during social and political upheaval? Is a cautionary tale about how revolutions can turn more repressive than the regimes they replace? Or perhaps it's simply offered as a bird's eye view into one of the great events of the 20th century, one that shaped Western politics for decades to come. Or is it something else?

10. What have you learned about the October 17 Revolution that you did not know before reading Janet Fitch's novel? What surprised you most? What did you find most disturbing, maybe horrifying? Where did you find your sympathies falling: with the victors or the vanquished?

11. The novel is 800 pages long. Too long for you? Do you feel the author made some unnecessary detours in order to ramp up the plot line? Or do Marina's many adventures — as a sex slave, as part of a spiritual cult, living with the astronomers — enhance the story for you, giving it life and color?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution.)

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The Light Keeper's Daughter 
Jean E. Pendziwol, 2017
HarperCollins
320 pp.
ISBN-13:
9780062572028


Summary
Though her mind is still sharp, Elizabeth's eyes have failed.

No longer able to linger over her beloved books or gaze at the paintings that move her spirit, she fills the void with music and memories of her family—a past that suddenly becomes all too present when her late father's journals are found amid the ruins of an old shipwreck.

With the help of Morgan, a delinquent teenage performing community service, Elizabeth goes through the diaries, a journey through time that brings the two women closer together.

Entry by entry, these unlikely friends are drawn deep into a world far removed from their own — to Porphyry Island on Lake Superior, where Elizabeth’s father manned the lighthouse seventy years before.

As the words on these musty pages come alive, Elizabeth and Morgan begin to realize that their fates are connected to the isolated island in ways they never dreamed. While the discovery of Morgan's connection sheds light onto her own family mysteries, the faded pages of the journals hold more questions than answers for Elizabeth, and threaten the very core of who she is. (From the publisher.)



Author Bio
Birth—1965
Where—Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
Education—N/A
Awards— Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Award
Currently—lives in Thunder Bay, Ontario


Jean E. Pendziwol was born in Thunder Bay on Lake Superior, in northwestern Ontario, Canada. She spent much of her childhood aboard her family’s sailboat, exploring the islands and bays of the inland sea. After working as a freelance writer and photographer, she spent several years focusing on raising her three children before publishing her first children’s book. She lives in Ontario, in the shadow of the Nor’Wester Mountains, with her husband, two of her three grown children, a loveable mutt, and three temperamental chickens, who sometimes lay eggs (From the publisher.)



Book Reviews
Morgan Fletcher is performing community service at the senior center, penance for tagging it with graffiti art. She’s matched up with Elizabeth Livingstone, an elderly woman whose mind is still sharp, even though her eyesight has failed her. Elizabeth has just been sent some journals belonging to her late father, but she needs Morgan’s help to read them. As Elizabeth uncovers details from her past with each page, Morgan becomes more determined to solve the mysteries in her own life.
New York Post


A remarkable achievement.… [A] story of commitment, identity, and familial loyalty that will leave one in tears. Five out of five stars.
New York Journal of Books


Seamlessly weaves between past and present.… I loved this story! From the characters to the setting, each aspect is perfect. The Light Keeper's Daughters is one of the best books that I’ve read this year.… [B]eautifully written.
Fresh Fiction


YA author Pendziwol pins her first story for adults to the "fortunes of chance."… This is a perfect hammock read for those who love the Brontë sisters and Jodi Picoult in equal measure.
Publishers Weekly


This atmospheric novel tells an intricate story about familial love and deception. While the story at the novel's core may lean toward the melodramatic, readers will be drawn in by the intergenerational relationship. —Mara Dabrishus, Ursuline Coll. Lib., Pepper Pike, OH
Library Journal


Deeply satisfying.… With strong characters and rich in historical details, The Lightkeeper’s Daughters looks carefully at love and identity and the things we do to keep them both safe.
Booklist


Pendziwol has created an intricately satisfying story about love and deception that manages to be both melancholy and exhilarating. A haunting tale of nostalgia and lost chances that is full of last-minute surprises.
Kirkus Reviews



Discussion Questions
The following questions were generously provided to LitLovers by Linda of Anaheim Page Turners. Thank you, Linda!

1. What is the setting for this novel? Did you think the author portrayed the setting and the experiences of a lighthouse keeper well?

2. We first are introduced to Morgan. Describe her. What are her problems at the beginning of the story?

3. What takes Morgan to the care facility? What is she supposed to do there?

4. What attracts Elizabeth to Morgan so that she would reveal her background to a stranger?

5. How does Morgan move the story of the Livingston sisters forward and help reveal their secrets?

6. Describe the Livingston family: Elizabeth, Emily, Lil, Andrew, Peter, and Charlie.

7. Greyson and David Fletcher worked at the lighthouse at different times. How are they related to the Livingston family experiences?

8. Who were Alfred and Millie? How did they save Elizabeth and Emily? How did they enrich their lives?

9. Who said, "You should have let her die. Emily will never be right"? How did you interpret that statement? Does that statement help you understand her actions that occur later in the story?

10. Elizabeth called the year of 1942 the Year of 3 Deaths. Whose deaths was she referring to?

11. Elizabeth said, "Have I created a truth? One I can live with? Have I relived the moment so many times that my fiction is now my truth — the truth I want it to be?" What was she referring to? Have you ever repeated past events in your mind so many times, you are no longer sure what is really true and what you have convinced yourself is true?

12. How did Elizabeth learn she was not related to Lil or Pa or Emily?

13. What happened to Emily after the fire which burned the lighthouse and killed Lil?

14. Who arranged the release of Emily? How did this change her life?

15. Who was Elizabeth really?

16. Who hid Andrew’s logbooks? And how were they found?

17. Emily was raped and became pregnant by whom? What was his motivation? How did Arnie Richardson pay for his practical joke in the Indian graveyard?

18. What did Emily name her baby? Who took the baby away? What name was she then given? What was her fate?

19. How is Morgan related to the Livingstone family? How does she bring the family full circle? Was David Fletcher actually her grandfather?

20. The wolf mentioned throughout the novel is a symbol of what?

20. What theme or message did you take away from this story?

21. Did you enjoy the story? Why or why not?   

(Questions submitted to LitLovers by Linda of Anaheim Page Turners. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution.)

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Bonfire 
Krysten Ritter, 2017
Crown/Archetype
288 pp.
ISBN-13:
9781524759841


Summary
A gripping, tightly wound suspense novel about a woman forced to confront her past in the wake of small-town corruption.
 
It has been ten years since Abby Williams left home and scrubbed away all visible evidence of her small-town roots. Now working as an environmental lawyer in Chicago, she has a thriving career, a modern apartment, and her pick of meaningless one-night stands.

But when a new case takes her back home to Barrens, Indiana, the life Abby painstakingly created begins to crack. Tasked with investigating Optimal Plastics, the town’s most high-profile company and economic heart, Abby begins to find strange connections to Barrens’s biggest scandal from more than a decade ago, involving the popular Kaycee Mitchell and her closest friends—just before Kaycee disappeared for good.

Abby knows the key to solving any case lies in the weak spots, the unanswered questions. But as she tries desperately to find out what really happened to Kaycee, troubling memories begin to resurface and she begins to doubt her own observations.

And when she unearths an even more disturbing secret—a ritual called “The Game”—it will threaten reputations, and lives, in the community and risk exposing a darkness that may consume her.

With tantalizing twists, slow-burning suspense, and a remote rural town of just five claustrophobic square miles, Bonfire is a dark exploration of what happens when your past and present collide. (From the publisher.)



Author Bio
Birth—December 16, 1981
Where—Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, USA
Education—Northwest Area High School
Currently—lives in New York, NY and Los Angeles, California


Krysten Alyce Ritter is an American actress, former model, and author. Ritter is known for her roles as lead superheroine Jessica Jones on the Marvel Cinematic Universe series Jessica Jones and The Defenders, Jane Margolis on the AMC drama series Breaking Bad, and Chloe on the ABC comedy series Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23. She has appeared in films such as What Happens in Vegas (2008), 27 Dresses (2008), Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009), She's Out of My League (2010), Veronica Mars (2014), and Big Eyes (2014). She has also had roles in the television shows Gravity, 'Til Death, Veronica Mars, Gossip Girl, and The Blacklist.

She published her debut novel, Bonfire, a thriller, to solid reviews in 2017.

Early life
Ritter was born in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Garry Ritter and Kathi Taylor. She was raised on a farm outside Shickshinny, Pennsylvania, where her mother, stepfather and sister live; her father lives in nearby Benton. Ritter graduated in 2000 from Northwest Area High School.

Modeling
When she was only 15, Ritter was scouted by an agent at a modeling event at the local shopping mall, the Wyoming Valley Mall. Ritter described herself at the time as "tall, gawky, awkward, and really, really skinny" to Philadelphia Style magazine. During the remainder of her high school years, she traveled on her days off to modeling gigs in New York and Philadelphia. She signed with the Elite Model Management agency and then with Wilhelmina Models. By the age of 18, she was living in New York full-time and beginning to establish an international modeling career in print and on TV. She did magazine, catalog, and runway work in Milan, New York, Paris, and Tokyo.

Acting
Ritter's acting career began when Wilhelmina sent her to audition for a Dr Pepper TV commercial. Ritter told Philadelphia Style that she believed her "outgoing and bubbly and funny" personality entertained the casting people and eased her transition into acting. The ad job opened up doors, allowing her to play several bit film roles starting in 2001, eventually playing the role of a history student in Julia Roberts' Mona Lisa Smile (2003). In 2006, she appeared in two off-Broadway plays.

During those early years, Ritter had a number of guest starring roles on television, and appeared on the second season of Veronica Mars, playing Gia Goodman, the daughter of mayor Woody Goodman (Steve Guttenberg). She also guest-starred on Gilmore Girls for eight episodes from 2006 to 2007 as Rory Gilmore's friend, Lucy.

In 2007, Ritter moved from Brooklyn (New York City) to Los Angeles, where she continued to further her budding film and TV career. She lives in L.A. still, but splits her time between there and New York City. (Adapted from Wikipedia. Retrieved 11/15/2017. The full-length version is available at Wikipedia.)



Book Reviews
The Jessica Jones star makes an auspicious literary debut with Bonfire, spinning a suspenseful, psychologically gripping story.
Entertainment Weekly


In this adroit debut the star of Marvel's Jessica Jones proves her talents aren't limited to acting.… [Bonfire is] a thriller that delivers suspense, surprise and satisfaction.
People


(Starred review.) [A] triumphant…pulse-pounding thriller featuring a sympathetic, broken lead character.… Abby’s noirish worldview … is pitch-perfect, and Ritter effectively uses [her] present-tense narration to create immediacy.
Publishers Weekly


Ritter, lead actress on television’s Jessica Jones, is likely to attract readers with her name, but this strong, gritty debut is good enough to create its own fan following.
Booklist


[Abby] digs deeper … all while wrestling with her own, somewhat predictable, demons that Ritter … tries admirably to spice up. A fast-paced thriller that doesn’t reinvent the wheel but introduces a tough female lead who’s easy to root for.
Kirkus Reviews



Discussion Questions
1. Would you call Abby an unreliable narrator? Do you trust her?

2. Do you relate to Abby? What are Abby’s greatest vulnerabilities? Do you think she has strengths or vulnerabilities that she is unaware of?

3. After working so hard to leave Barrens and her small-town roots behind, why did Abby return home? Did she find what she was looking for?

4. Why did Abby turn her environmental investigation into a search for Kaycee? Why did Abby keep pushing, even when she was threatened?

5. Describe Abby’s relationship with her father. How did her parents and upbringing shape who she became as an adult?

6. What do you think of Misha? Does the author intend for her to be a sympathetic character? Why or why not?

7. What pressures led Brent to get involved with Optimal’s exploitation of local high school girls? Is Brent to blame?

8. Describe the scenes in which the town comes together to celebrate – their bonfires and football games. In what ways are the characters trying to relive their high school days? Do they succeed?

9. What does the novel say about reconciling with your past? Do you think Abby was happy that she returned to Barrens?

10. Could this story have happened in a bigger town or a city? What about Barrens made it easy for Optimal to take advantage of its citizens? Is there an underlying takeaway about the relationship between big companies and small towns? Explain.

11. Were you surprised by the revelations at the end of the book? Did you suspect Brent or Misha all along?

12. Are Abby and Condor a good match? Did you want to see them together in the end?

13. What do you think the future holds for Abby? Were you satisfied with the ending?)
(Questions issued by the publisher.)

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