Category Archives: Bookies Review
I recently reviewed the book The Life We Bury. This post is my book clubs review.
I was excited for this review and curious what the Bookies would think about this read by a Minnesota author, centered around a college student, an autistic brother, a non reliable mother, and a dying murderer.
Our discussion was really centered around the character development in the story. Each of the characters are well-developed, something we agreed that we like in our reading. We had a chance to get to know everyone represented – and each of them had something in their life that they buried. It really made the title so appropriate, after all… don’t we all have something in our life that we bury, work to keep from resurfacing?
We felt as a whole that book was one that was easy to fall right into. From page one many of us sank right into the smooth writing. While the group felt over all that the story was a little predictable, no one faulted the book because it was such a well written read.
Each of the characters that surround this book have a story. Some, as in most books, we were able to see flush out more than others. Author Allen Eskens however gave us enough bread crumbs on the less developed characters to see who they really were as well.
Over all the book for us rated a solid 4 out of 5. We enjoyed the book and enjoyed the Minnesota setting which we found familiar. Plus… we learned a little more about SPAM. ;)
Why Does This Book Make For A Good Book Club Read?
- The life We Bury provides a Midwestern setting that is evenly paced. The book never feels overly hurried, giving readers a chance to really sink into the character development.
- There are great opportunities to discuss what we feel we bury in our own lives – either past or presently.
- The fact that our protagonist Joe is from Austin Minnesota, the home of SPAM (which Joe states in the book) opens up some fun opportunities for your group to explore SPAM either through cooking or through trivia. Our group did a little of both :)
Above: We had fun finding food that went with the book. Thai Curry spam meatballs, spam with cheese and red potatoes, fish to represent the fishing in the book, and lots of yummy extras of wild rice soup, bread, bars, dips, crackers, bread and cheesecake.
Note: The sandwiches upper right were my quick recipe of wanting to make something with SPAM. They were Hawaiian rolls, spam, and Swiss cheese. I heated them in the oven until the cheese melted. I called them SPAMwiches, Spliders (SPAM Sliders), and SPAM burgers. ;)
Between The World and Me is a series of letters written by author Ta-Nehisi Coates to his 15-year-old son. The letters consist of racial history and walks us through Coates life from a impoverish child in a hard part of Baltimore to attending Harvard.
Between The World and Me was our book clubs pick for January of this year. I was really proud of the book club for choosing this book because not only is in non fiction, it is on a hard subject. I was excited to discuss such a book as a group. For myself, Between The World and Me was at times fascinating, Coates, has a wonderful way with worlds that made me think about things more deeply… but towards the end of this book I found myself a bit exhausted by what started to feel like heavy negativity towards our world and felt as though their was little hope for someone born African-American. When I finished the book I was not really sure, and I am still not, on how I feel about it. I am glad I had the opportunity to read it, however as I am a white woman, I can not express with any certainty of if what Coates is saying is how it is. I have not walked in his shoes.
The book club discussion was everything I had hoped it would be. Over delicious food and wine, we discussed our feelings about the book. Granted, we are a group of mostly mid-western women but I think we did a good job of discussing what is happening in our world today (Minneapolis is 2 1/3 hours from where we live and there has been recent issues there with African-Americans and the police) as well as around the US. Coates, we agreed did a good job of sharing what it was like for himself to grow up as he did, however most of us agreed that these letters to his son were fairly heavy for a 15-year-old, and in my opinion, left a hopeless sort of feeling for any positive future.
This was one of those discussions I wish I would have recorded. It was passionate and deeper in a direction we have never gone before as a group.
Over all the book rated just below an average rating for us. Some liked it less and some a little more.
Why is this a good book for a book club/ reading group?
Between The World and Me brings much to be discussed and the discussion flows almost without questions. For reading groups that have been together a while, this book will take you to another level. Groups may experience a difference in opinion on how they feel about this book and that makes for good discussion.
Ask your group to write down their favorite quotes from the book to be discussed.
Have your groups share current issues from the news involving race and discuss.
- Hardcover: 176 pages
- Publisher: Spiegel & Grau; 1 edition (July 14, 2015)
I drove some of you a little nuts yesterday by talking or I guess, not talking about a book and not telling you what the book I was not talking about was.
That was kind of the point.
Yesterdays post was not about the book, as I titled the post. Discussing the book – would have taken away from my point. The book discussion is what originally brings us together… but through the years so much more has come out of these monthly literary gatherings.
Today I will talk about the book.
Our book club just read All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I did not personally get a chance to read it however the discussion that came from this book definitely held my interest.
A quick synopsis:
Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.
In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge. ~ as described on Amazon
The Bookies book club had a deep discussion on what life was like for Marie-Laure and what an amazing father she had. I had heard this book made for excellent book club discussion, and observing this without having read the book myself confirmed this. The questions flowed freely and everyone had thoughts on the book, even sharing person stories of relatives that they had connected to the war.
Suzanne in our groups said, “Choosing not to read this book is a crime against humanity.”
That is a pretty powerful statement.
Over all the Bookies rated this a 3.9 out of 5. For the most part they thought it was a slow start to the book and hard to get into until you get beyond page 50. Some felt it took longer than that. Once into it however, it seemed that almost everyone found the book very good.
I plan to still read this.
This past Tuesday we had book club. It was our annual December potluck, home made gift exchange, and donation to the library’s book in a bag program. Normally, this is one of my favorite meetings of the year as I do love the little extras we put into book club. This year however…
not so much.
The last month has been hard – and I thought I had the book we were reading on my shelf and if I do… I can not find it. The library copies were all checked out, and I personally wasn’t sure if the book was something I was going to enjoy so I did not want to buy it. All that and a lot of procrastination… I had not read the book.
I went to book club that night feeling a bit stressed out… tired, and unprepared.
The visiting, the glass of wine, catching up on conversations and lives….
and the food…
Meatballs and seafood chowder, soup, salad, dips and chips, olives, breads, bruschetta, chocolates, cake and more….
I sat back and another girl in our group led the discussion which is normally what I do. Even though I had not read the book, the discussion was engaging. It was interesting to be the observer and watch this group of girls who have come together because of a book… but really… more than that. This motley crew of women are all friends. We come together to share in each others lives, to care for one another. We have been together through sickness and celebration, great sorrow…as well as joy. As I watched this group that at one time were for the most part strangers – joke with one another, discuss this book, listen to each others opinions, and share personal stories that surfaced because of reading this book and I thought…
this is so much more than about a book.
The book… well, I will write another post and share with you about the book. When I asked at the end of the discussion if they felt this was something I should read or pass on, they said it needed to be read. In fact, my favorite comment of the night came from Susanne who said, “It is a crime against humanity to not have read this book.”
I guess I will be reading the book.
I did mention this was our gift exchange night… the rule being it must be something the giver has made. I put together a metal basket of canned goods I had made this fall – salsa, apple butter, stewed tomatoes, pasta sauce, and homemade caramels.
Here are pictures of the gifts that were given (Yoda would say “talent in group runs deep”)
Don’t forget…. 1st book of the year is just around the corner!
There is a reason our book club has a wait list.
are a ton of fun.
We always enjoy taking our reads to the next level through excellent discussion not only on book, but author as well, often food to go with what we read, and occasionally (my favorites) we dress up.
When we chose Gone With The Wind for our Annual Classic Read I was so excited about the possibilities for dressing the era. When the buzz started with the girls saying they would make curtain dresses, having never read the book before I was thrilled with their enthusiasm…. making dresses! Way to go Bookies!!!
I was sent a link to the Carol Burnett spoof on the book…
Ahhh….. what exactly were the Bookies going to do?
There was a little buzz on our Facebook page. They were havig trouble finding used curtains for their dresses. I went to a Halloween shop and found mine …. it was called Goth Vampire but I figured if Scarlett could be who she was… she certainly could also be goth.
So book review night comes. I had it at my house, converted to the Plantation Tara for the evening. And as the girls entered… I was impressed with their creativity..
do not disappoint.
As you can see in the picture… several made the curtain dress! Kathy (far right in white) even had the curtain rod in hers! Between using old curtains, buying curtains, dressing in an ere looking dress, and being creative….
the Bookies take on Gone With The Wind like pro’s! You will notice up front we have a Mammy… and another surprise you can not quite see in this picture, but you will soon!
There she is… in the back to the left with a halo…. yes Gone With The Wind fans…. Lori dressed up as….
Yup. God’s nightgown.
The exclamation that Scarlett would frequently say throughout the book when she was frustrated. The first time in Bookie history that someone dressed as an exclamation. Nicely played Lori…
Laura, with the help of her mother, went all out and sewed up this cute little curtain number from new curtains. I told her she could wear this next year to our Gatsby party as well!
Of course… it wouldn’t be a Bookies book review without great food….
We had corn pone, Frankly My Dear I Don’t Give A Ham sandwiches, Butler Balls, shrimp creole,fried chicken, brownies, and sweet potato pie (recipe below) and a Scarlett OHara drink (recipe below).
We had an excellent discussion on the book. There is so much to talk about in Gone With The Wind! We all agreed that Ashley was NOT a catch. We discussed Scarlett’s relationships with her different husbands as well as with her children. She was indeed… a unique individual.
We also had good discussion over the author Margaret Mitchell… kudos to her for creating such a protagonist as Scarlett… what an unusual perspective for the times…. this headstrong woman who was not a nurturing mother or wife but instead always looking for the best way to support herself and her ambitions.
It was interesting also to hear the difference of thoughts from those in the group who had read the book before (very few actually), and those who had seen the movie, to those of us like myself that had not done either.
For a classic, the overall consensus was an average read AND not to bad for a classic rating – BELIEVE ME. A few of us, myself included, rated the book a 5 which is our top of our rating scale. See my personal review here.
Why Does Gone With The Wind make for a good book club read?
Gone With The Wind is indeed vast with pages, but worth the efforts for book clubs. The option to read or listen to on audio makes for a wide variety of discussion on both. There is much to discuss as a group from the civil war, to the reasons this is a banned book, to Scarlett herself as well as her relationships with others. AND the little extras you can do to make your discussion even deeper.
Sweet Potato Pie
you will need-
1 1/2- 2 pounds sweet potatoes
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 9 inch pie crust
- Boil sweet potato whole in skin for 40 to 50 minutes, or until done. Run cold water over the sweet potato, and remove the skin.
- Break apart sweet potato in a bowl. Add butter, and mix well with mixer. Stir in sugar, milk, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until mixture is smooth. Pour filling into an unbaked pie crust.
- Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 55 to 60 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Pie will puff up like a souffle, and then will sink down as it cools. ( as seen at All Recipes.com)
Scarlett O Hara Drink
2 ounces Southern Comfort
8-10 oz cranberry juice
1 squirt of lemon juice to taste
mix and serve over ice
How does one do a synopsis of Gone With The Wind?
Well… for this first time reader and having never seen the movie (still haven’t), I will give you the synopsis in my own words as though I were telling a friend about this book…. (after all, we are friends right?;) )
Gone With The Wind is about a plantation… about a family… about a war… but mostly, about a girl named Scarlett. Scarlett is in modern terms, a mean girl. She is spoiled, selfish, and while she is not beautiful, her personality drawn men to her – and in Scarlett’s opinion (after all, what other opinion is there?) that is everything.
When the Civil war breaks out Scarlett learns that not everything comes as easy as it once did. In fact many things are going to take all that stubbornness she possesses as she learns to adjust to the changing times… but Scarlett is not your typical girl of the south and the way she chooses to live her life and survive can come as a surprise, even to her.
First up… I need to say how proud I am of my book club for choosing to read this books for our Annual Classic Read. This has been a bucket list book for me forever and our book clubs choice to read it as a group is what finally pushed me to opening this book.
I am so glad I did.
I was pleasantly surprised with Scarlett, while she is not very likable, the girl has gusto. Her selfishness at times is laughable… at other times, it is sad. She is, and I say this thankfully, not a damsel in distress but instead a witty sprite of a girl who learns many lessons the hard way, but does not allow her spirit to be broken.
You kind of have to admire that.
While I did start reading this book, I found that my time commitments did not allow me for a lot of “sit down and read” time, so I switched to audio. Let me say, if you love Gone With The Wind and have not experienced it in audio, I highly recommend you do. While I have been canning these past weeks, Linda Stephens narration was just the thing to pass the time and keep me engaged.
My over all thoughts on the book was it is a win. I do not agree with those that call this book a romance … God’s Nightgown, no…. this is a whole new level of dysfunction at its finest! Going into this knowing barely the story line I was happy to read that the book was not the predictable read I thought I was encountering – yet a fascinating time hop to the civil war and a plantation that worked like no other, Tara.
If you have not experienced Gone With The Wind this is my recommendation that you do make the time to read (or listen to) this book. It is truly worthy of the classic title.
Author, Margaret Mitchell died after being hit by a drunk driver while crossing the street with her husband on their way to see a movie. Gone With The Wind is Mitchell’s only book, and one she wrote because she was bored.
- Paperback: 960 pages
- Publisher: Scribner; Reissue edition (May 3, 2011)
- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 49 hours and 7 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Recorded Books
- Audible.com Release Date: October 1, 2009
*Be sure to watch for my book clubs thoughts on this book as well as the food we ate AND the clothes we wore to celebrate Gone With The Wind.
I mentioned a little while back that my book club is reading Gone With The Wind for our classic read month in October. This is a book that has been on my “hit list” FOR-E-VAH.
Yup.. that long.
I have never seen the movie, holding out for the book version first and then perhaps I will dabble with the movie. I have friends *cough cough Gail cough* that SWEAR that this is THE book.. so we shall see.
No matter what – I always find classics fun to discuss. I thought perhaps I would do a weekly check in here with how Scarlett and I are fairing, and now at 111 pages in… I thought I would share.
to bring you up to speed, Scarlett and I are now currently on our way to the barbecue at Ashley Wilkey’s home. Scarlett is quite full of herself, positive that once she confesses her love for Ashley he will drop his announcement of his engagement to his cousin (yes cousin… there is slim pickins in this neck of the woods). Scarlett has squished herself into a dress that she is glad her mother is not in attendance to see and she has just caught the eye of one Rhett Butler at the gathering (ahhh… so this is how they meet… the ol’ “pick up a chick at the cousins marrying cousins engagement party barbecue” … very sly Mister Butler… very sly.
So that is where I am at. I know I am early on in the story. I like Scarlett’s story line, (she’s a little like an old school YA read), found the early on LONG description of Scarlett’s father and his lack of height and his love for the drink a bit drawn out and skim worthy.
Hopefully today I will find out what actually happens at the party. I had nothing to wear as fancy as Scarlett… I am all about the jean capris and a kicky peach colored short sleeved shirt…. probably not worthy of catching the eye of someone like Rhett, unless he wants someone to possibly refill his drink or walk his horse.
In RL… this week has been fairly quiet and I am thankful for that. I have helped out a bit at the library, had a fascinating get together yesterday with an amazing woman in town who is a force to recon with when it comes to literacy in our community and promoting the written word, and a long overdue lunch date with some good friends. Ok, other than that it has been just me at home, working on the lawn, listening to audio…. trying to find a new normal and at the same time, stubbornly not wanting to.
I didn’t mean to go….
I don’t know. I guess I just didn’t mean to go.
The past two weeks have been so out of my control that I am just doing what I have to do to get through the days. With two large events just around the corner I am trying hard to find balance. You throw in the mix my friend Connie, a big storm that requires clean up attention, commitments, people I
need to want to spend time with, and my own grief….
Just trying to get through it.
And so – with all of that, I find I do not get here – HERE as much as I would like. I am still not firing on all cylinders which makes all of these things that I could normally handle feel heavy and hard to do just the easiest of tasks. I am so easily…
Yesterday and today I have tried hard to slow down. I have had things I had to do every day and I am feeling the strain on putting my grief to the side to get things done. For the record, I have discovered that does not work well… it exhausts me and leaves me pretty nonfunctional come the end of the day. Tomorrow my “to do’s” bump up again, the weekend is full of activity and next week…
I don’t even want to think about next week.
I do have posts to write. I have a couple of audio I have finished and just downloaded Armada this morning which I am SUPER EXCITED about. We also had the Bookies Queen event this week which took a lot of energy but I am so glad I participated. L♥ve this group of gals. I will write a post up all about that – maybe today.
That’s it for this morning. I have a few things itching at the corners of my brain reminding me I need to do them… and I do, so off I go. Enjoy THIS day.
Morning. Coffee. Overcast day. Overcast mood. Day 68.
On Tuesday of this week we had our Bookies Book Club meeting and discussed the book The Pearl That Broke It’s Shell by Nadia Hashimi. I did not finish the book, I started it and then knew it would be too detailed for me at this time. Those who read it said it was a good read and they learned about the Afghanistan culture. It made for a good book discussion and I enjoyed listening to the discussion.
For the fourth year in a row, we have made June our book exchange month. The rules: You are supposed to bring a book that you really enjoyed (preferably in the last year) that you would like someone else to enjoy too. Put a post it note in the book saying why you enjoyed this book so much and if you want the book back or if the person who chose it can keep it. You wrap the book in brown paper wrap. We then each choose a book out of the pile and that is what we read for our July gathering. Here are the books that were picked:
Amy M – Wind Through The Keyhole (Sharon)
Angie – Blessings by Anna Quindlen (Lori P)
Sheila – Abercrombie Trail by Candace Simar (Laura)
Kaydi – Waiting For Summers Return (Kathy)
Lori – Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (Amy P)
Jean – The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Sheila)
Sharon – Those Who Save Us (Mary)
Amy – Distant Shores (Jean)
Kathy – Naked in Death (Lori N)
Susan – Walking on Water (Kaydi)
Mary – Union Street Bakery (Amy M)
Lori – The Nightingale (Angie)
Laura – Gift From The Sea (Susan)
Today my son’s roommate is coming to visit me. It will be nice to see her, but I know it will be an afternoon filled with memories and tears.
Violet Turner is the owner of Hourglass Vintage in Madison Wisconsin. Her shop is filled with delightful items from an array of decades. Violet loves her shop, her location, and the stories that the items she sells hold. When she discovers that her landlord is looking to sell the building Hourglass Vintage is in, Violet panics. She has the option in her lease to buy, but nowhere near the money being asked. Violet realizes she can not do this alone.
April Morgan is 18 years old, 5 months pregnant, and hurting from the loss of her mother as well as the broken engagement to be married that came as a shock. When April brings the vintage 1950’s wedding dress to Violet’s shop in hopes to return it, a surprising connection starts to develop…
Amithi Singh brings items of her heritage to Hourglass Vintage, items she had believed she would pass on to her daughter but her now grown daughter has shunned such traditional items. Reeling from shocking news about her husbands fidelity – or lack there of – Amithi is looking to find her way, and she may have made a right step by coming to Violet’s store…. What can these women of very different backgrounds find in common that may be able to help Hourglass Vintage?
Vintage by Susan Gloss was a fun read about a strong woman trying to make it with her dream vintage clothing shop. Each chapter starts with a unique item found in the shop, the description, approximate date of the item, and where it came from. It made for a fun look into a vintage clothing shop and the characters that shop there or the ones that drop off their items. Vintage is a light and fun book and fit in with what I needed at the time I was reading it. There were a couple “hmmmm” moments in the book for me but for the most past this is a book to not take too seriously and just enjoy the read.
Our book club the Bookies read this book and we Skyped with the author Susan Gloss. We enjoyed pizza (mentioned in the book), spaghetti, wine, cheese, and desserts. One of the girls in our group had vintage items from her own history which was incredible cool (see pictures below). The Bookies over all rated the book higher than I did. For the most part they found the book to be enjoyable and over all the 16 of us came up with an average rating of 4 out of a high rating of 5 which is pretty good.
- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (September 2, 2014)