Category Archives: Bookies Review

Descent by Tim Johnston – Bookies Book Club Review w/ Discussion Questions

Descent by Tim Johnston review questions, discussion, Bookies, Book Club, Book Journey

Quick Synopsis…

While the Courtland family is on vacation in Colorado with their two teenage children, their daughter Cailtin is abducted while out for a morning run.  What follows is a three-year nightmare while the already struggling family tries to move on.  With no answers to what happened to Caitlin or even if she is dead or alive, each remaining member of the Courtland family battles this crushing weight in different ways.

Grant, the father remains in Colorado unable to leave the are his daughter disappeared from.  He stays at a ranch helping out an elderly man, making attempts to move forward but nothing happens.

Angela, the mother, has returned to their home state of Wisconsin but deals with great depression.  She lives with her sister after having had to sell their family home and has a hard time functioning from day-to-day.

Sean, the brother, now 18, the age his sister was when she was taken struggles with the guilt of having been with Caitlin when she was taken.  What could he have done differently?

And Caitlin.  Will they ever find her?  And if they do, what exactly will they find?

 

I reviewed Descent by Tim Johnston last week with my opinion.  This review is the thoughts of our book club as a whole and no spoilers :)

Descent brought out a lot of good discussion among our group.  While some of us really found the storyline realistic and engaging, others pointed out things that did not seem to fit.  There were questions of characters who suddenly did something completely out of their character which we all agreed did not fit, but some would argue that some things do not need to be revealed to the reader. Perhaps the author was giving the reader the feeling of “no control” and that not knowing what would happen could very well, as some argued, give the book a feel more real to life.  After all… life is messy and try as we may to figure out how things are going to go… we never do really know.

It was mentioned that the book synopsis that we read from the book when we chose it was not an accurate synopsis, of what actually happens in the book.  Some felt mislead to be told one thing and then read another.

Over all, on a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the best, the ratings went from 2,s to 4,s and quite a few rating it in the 3’s (a standard read).  It was one of those books that bring out a lot of thoughts, opinions, and discussion.  We even reenacted a final scene (I can’t share… that would be a spoiler) when we questioned how one would do that.  One girl in our group even had a similar story to share of something that happened to a friend of her sons while hiking.  There is actually a book written about that true story, Bringing Jon Home by David Francis.  A book that I ordered on Kindle this morning.

 

Why Would This Make A Good Book Club Read

Descent is a book that could have been ripped from the headlines.  This leads to discussion like, “what would you do?” as well as discussion on how a strong family can be shattered by such an experience and a damaged family (such as the Courtland’s) have a good chance of falling completely apart.

If you look at reviews of this book on-line from some of the big name newspapers, New York Times, The Herald, etc… you will find diverse opinions, much like you can expect from a group read.  The writing style can be thought of as brilliant, or annoying.  (And in our group it was just that)

In the book, Sean is believed to be false when he is telling the truth.  Discussion can be made over when that has happened in your lives, when you are telling the truth about something and you are either misunderstood, or believed to be false and the frustration of when your character is questioned like that.

Themes of hope, faith, depression, denial, and survival instinct are all represented within this read.

Bookies, Book Club, discussion questions, Tim JOhnston, Descent

Food ideas… while not a lot of food is mentioned within the book, there is pizza at a birthday celebration, and Caitlin keeps snickers in her pockets when she runs for energy boosts.

Questions For Your Discussion

 

Morning Meanderings… Book Club Heated Discussion

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Good morning!  Happy Wednesday!  My only big “to do” today was to take the dogs to the groomers and I have already dropped them off.  Now a day of catching up on some smaller projects and basking in the aftermath of last nights book club.

At least….

nothing was broken.

:shock:

Actually I kid, our group was awesome as usual and last nights discussion of Descent by Tim Johnston was a good one.  I do not want to say too much here as my book club review post of this book is going up later today – but I can say a book where the group has different opinions always makes for good discussion.

I think I made it to the second question on the book when it started…. one person said, “and that was where it all went wrong and I didn’t like the rest of the book,” and another piped in, “I thought that was when it was getting interesting!”  I nudged Kaydi who was sitting next to me and I said, “here we go.. this is going to be good.”

And it was good, we all had things that we did not like about the book and some of us found things that we really liked about the book.  This was a great discussion read and we were nowhere near the level of mixed heated discussion we were when we discussed Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.

Bookies Book Club, Sheila DeChantal, Minnesota

One of our gals was out last night due to a recent surgery and we took this picture to put on Facebook.

 

I did also promise you some food pics… and that will be in the review post – stay tuned to find out more about Descent by Tim Johnston and what makes it an excellent book club choice as well as questions you can use for your group if you discuss this one.

I know I asked you yesterday for ideas for a book club read for April and you came forward with excellent suggestions.  We did settle on a book that was part of our Book Club Girl package, Vintage by Susan Gloss because she is skyping with us for our April meeting.  I am kind of excited as we have fun plans in store for this one.

 

 

Morning Meanderings…. Book Club Morning and I Need Your Help

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Good morning!  I want to run through the house screaming “It is book club day!  It is book club day!”  Perhaps tossing flower petals out of a little yellow basket as I do so.

Yes that is how excited I am about having book club at my house this evening.  The book Descent by Tim Johnston was one I enjoyed and I am curious what the rest of the Bookies thought of it. I already know there will be mixed feelings on this one which does make for good discussion.  I already have my food planned (you will see what I came up with tomorrow!) and an idea for a prop or two…. we do like to get into the books we read.

I was just talking about our book club with a friend yesterday and was explaining we were so much more than a book club. I told this friend that while at one time we were a bunch of motley crew gals that enjoyed books, through the years we became so much more.  We are there for one another when we go through things.  I would not want to lose any one of them.  I teared up a little bit when I spoke of them.

It is true.  We have built such an amazing group that I hang tight to them.  Together we are funny, we are serious, we are sad, we are passionate, and we get angry – all about books.  I love it.  I do.

Each meeting we choose the next book we plan to read.  We can all submit a book for vote – we look for a book that is:

Fairly new so we can find enough copies

priced under $15 and Kindle does count

 

SO my question to you this morning since at this time I do not have a suggestion in mind, what book would you suggest I put forth for the book club tonight to be considered as our April read?  Why would that make a good book club book?

 

Morning Meanderings…. 50 Shades Of… AWESOME!

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New coffee cup pic to come… I have one but for some reason can not get it to upload this morning and tired of waiting ;)

 

Happy Saturday!  I have the best weekend ahead of me here…. no plans!!! I love it!  I might have lunch with a friend, visit my aunt, try out the snow shoes finally… the possibilities are endless :)

As you probably know, today is the official release day of the 50 Shades Of Grey movie.  It’s Valentines Day… aren’t they cute?  I have not read the book and do not plan too and will more than likely be passing on the movie as well.  However, I would be neglect if I did not say the play on the title (mush as I have done today) has been fun. :D

Today for Saturday Snapshot, I thought it would be fun to post pics of my book club through the years because they really are 50 shades of AWESOME!  I was going through pics on Facebook the other day and thought it was fun to see all the crazy things we have done through the years.  Granted, this is not all of the craziness… this is just some.

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This was for our review of Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl. We disguised ourselves like she did in the book. Can you find me in this group? ;)

 

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Pride and Prejudice was the classic we were reading…. we dressed the era.

 

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A little fun with this pic.

 

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Sharon’s birthday. We surprised her and wore our “Bookies” shirts

 

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The review for The Wizard Of Oz.

 

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Our 100th meeting celebration! YAY!!!

 

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When one of us was diagnosed with breast cancer we wore pink to the meeting in support of her.

 

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Our first SKYPE with author Sandra Brannan. Sandra had sent us a care package for our review.

 

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Our current Queen and her coronation.

 

 

This has been fun for me to look back through these pics of a book club I adore.  Going strong since August of 2001!  There are a lot more pics, but now I think I am on a mission….. more on that later ;)

 

 

 

Morning Meanderings… Birthday Weekend and Book Club Tonight!

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Good morning! I think I have a Birthday weekend hangover and not from drinking. :)  I just had a really  busy weekend that was a lot of fun!

On Saturday my friend Amy and I went to the Gatsby Party in the cities.  It was a late night as we drove home the 2+ hours after the event but worth it.  I was inspired by what they accomplished.

On Sunday, hubby and I went to a movie, American Sniper.  SO good.  I will review it at some point this week.

Monday…. my actual birthday.  I had coffee in the morning with my friend Gail.  Then I went and treated myself to a manicure and pedicure.  My son Justin who lives in St. Paul came to the house around 3 pm and we went out and bought snacks for the night, went to a movie ( Project Almanac), picked up pizza afterwards, and came back home and watched Harry Potter and the Goblet Of Fire and Gone Girl.  (yes, again on both of them :D ).

Justin brought me this really cool wine glass:

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The glass says,

Secretly we’re all a little more absurd than we make ourselves out to be.  ~JK Rowling

Love it!

Tonight is book club and I am so excited!  I missed last months as I was on vacation so it will be good to see everyone AND it is at my house.  We have a couple of books to hand out tonight for our Harper Collins Book Club Girls event:

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I have them all set up on the table:

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It’s like out own mini BEA.  :D

As for today, Justin is still here.  We will hang out this morning and early afternoon than he has plans with friends and I will put the finishing touches on book club.   We are reviewing The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain, an author who I discovered this past fall and LOVED this book as well as a few others I have now read by her.  I am excited to see what the Bookies think.

Now… what will I make for an appetizer?  ;)

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote – Bookies Book Club Review

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This past week, 13 of the 16 Bookies gathered together for fun food, conversation, and a close up look at October Classic read, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote.  My full review of the book is here. As I had mentioned in an earlier post, I was curious about how a true crime would go over in this group.  We had read an Anne Rule true crime many years ago when we were about 8 or 10 members at that time, but nothing since then.

Our discussion mainly centered around the time and the crime.  We agreed that in the small community where the crime took place, you did not worry about your neighbors or what you said in public about what you owned.  The results of In Cold Blood, changed this community, and many communities forever.  I mentioned to the group that I had recently been speaking to a woman at a dinner I attended about our book club choice.  She said at the time of the crime she was a young girl and her parents told her, “you never tell people about what we have in our house… you do not mention the safe, or anything.”  The crimes of In Cold Blood, put fear in so many.

We also discussed how things randomly happen.  If Richard Hickock and Perry Edward Smith had never met, never spoke with the gut who had worked on the Clutter home…. the crime, by circumstance would never have happened.  We compared this, on a much lighter note to how we all wound up in book club together.  Looking around the room, when book club started I knew only one of the thirteen girls in the room.  We all met by circumstance, someone talked about book club and we agreed to go.  If not for Bookies and our group talking about it… we would not all have been in that room together this week talking about this book.

I love things like that. :)

Overall, the book was rated mainly average which is actually a good rating for a classic.   A few rated it higher, and a couple rated it lower.  The overall thought was that most of us do not like to read true crime, but this one worked as it is written in such a fictional way.  This was mainly because of the dialogue in the book compared to just straight facts about the crime.

Our food for the night… we themed a lot of foods from the times – Angie even made from a 1959 cook book a Purple Sea Urchin dish – little hot dogs poking out of a cabbage with Sterno in the middle to cook them!  I made the cucumber sandwiches… I went with the theme of funeral food.

PicMonkey Collage

 

What makes this a good book club choice?

I think it is good for a book club to shake up genres.  A true crime can bring out a different type of discussion, and while it is true crime, In Cold Blood is written in such a way it is not overly horrific, therefore making it a good book club pick – and it is a classic!  In Cold Blood is one of the books i like to be able to say I have read due to its classic status and the fact that Truman Capote is an author you will want to read.

When planning food for a book such as this I loved the idea Angie had of making food from the era.  She also brought (not pictured) old style potato chips and homemade dip with the Liptons onion soup mix, which apparently became popular in 1959.

While decorating for a true crime, or dressing up is hard to do – we did use a little crime scene tape that I had left over from the banned book window at the library.

For the groups that like to go a step further – In Cold Blood is a movie, as well as Capote (newer).  Either of these movies could add to your discussion on book and or author.

Bookies Thoughts: That Night by Chevy Stevens

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For September, our group the Bookies read and discussed That Night by Chevy Stevens.  I had read this one and reviewed it in June.  For myself, I was already a fan of Chevy Stevens books, but I was excited to see the bookies try her.

Brief synopsis:  Toni, a senior at her school becomes a victim to bullying even at the hands of her younger sister.  Her parents, especially her mother believe that Toni is the trouble maker while her sister Nicki gets away with everything.  When Nicki is found dead, Toni is blamed in having killed her and is tried as an adult and sent to prison.  Years later, on probation she is out and back in her home town where nobody wants her there, but she has to figure out what really happened that night.

 

That Night, actually surprised me of how well it lent itself to great discussion.  While at first glance I would not have called this a great book club discussion book, after last night I believe I need to change my response to that.

That Night covers such topics as the criminal justice service, wrongful convictions, dirty cops, bullying, murder, family dynamics, and relationships.  Our group actually had a deep conversation around these topics.  Including today’s school system, how the rights have gone from the teachers tot he students and how their is no control unless the parents give permission – and usually they do not.

Why would book clubs enjoy this read:  Chevy Stevens is well worth putting on your book club or reading groups radar.  Her book Still Missing blew me away years ago and I still refer to it.  I can easily see her books becoming movies.  Book Clubs can find much to discuss within these pages as I mentioned above.

We did do a little food with our review… nothing themed – I could not get my head wrapped around this one for a good idea…. and there is not much food in the book itself:

PicMonkey Collage

The Book Exchange.. How It Works And Why It Is Awesome

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The book club I am part of (The Bookies) have had a fun exchange that we have taken part in for the past three years.  I recently posted about it here.  It is a lot of fun and a great summer break idea for your book club or for you and your friends just to read really great books.

Here is the basic layout of how to do it.

  • Pick a date when you ask each person in your group to bring a wrapped book to the group.  (*we encourage brown wrap so people do not choose by the packaging ;) )
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY – The book everyone brings NEEDS to be a book the giver has read and liked very much if not LOVED.
  • Inside the front cover of the book place a post it note saying why you loved the book so much and if you want the receiver to keep it or return it after is read.

 

At your gathering you each choose a book and what you pick is what you read.  When you meet up again, you each share the book you read, who gave it to you and what you thought of it.  It is a lot of fun.

 

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Our group does this every June so in July during our annual picnic, we share what we each read instead of a whole group book review like we do the rest of the year.

 

collage for BJ

 

This year some of the books that made this exchange were:

 

Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts

Burial Rights by Hannah Kent

Night by Elie Wiesel

Delicious by Ruth Reichl

Lethal by Sandra Brown  (this is the book I picked out of the pile)

Red Moon by Benjamin Percy

Night Road by Kristin Hannah

Boy In The Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist

City Of Bones by Cassandra Claire

That Night by Chevy Stevens

 

My favorite part of the whole process is to listen to what everyone thinks about the books.  As you can see above we had some pretty amazing books in the group and a couple really deep ones (Night and Boy In The Striped Pajamas – two books that I think everyone must read.  For the most part everyone really enjoyed the book they picked.  As readers, at least I know for myself… I love it when a freind recommends that next great read.

Morning Meanderings… The BOOK Exchange!

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Good morning!

It is the morning of our Bookies Coronation.   SQUUUEEEEE!!!  I bought the dress on Saturday, I wrote my speech last night, giggling and texting my friend like a school girl about “How’s it going are you done?  Are you ready?”  with her texting back just as excited “just finishing up, now picking out my dress”

It will be great :)

Last month at book club, we had our Annual Book Exchange.  This practice started three years ago.  Each Bookie is supposed to wrap up in plain brown paper ( we are trying to avoid people picking the *pretty packaging*) a book that they have read in the past year that was a great read.  Obviously, not a Bookies Book Club pick.

Then…

We all randomly choose a book out of the pile and that will be the book we will each read and discuss in July (tonight) while we enjoy good food and conversation.  It is a fun tradition:

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collage for BJ

I had missed Bookies last month as I was at camp but I still participated.  I sent a book into the mix – the center picture above, Delicious by Ruth Reichl (LOVED that one!) and then the group picked a book out for me.  So what did I have picked to read this past month?

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I had Lethal by Sandra Brown.  This was a good one for me as I have tried Sandra Brown before and could not get through it.  She seems like an author I would enjoy, so this was a fun attempts again.  I finished it last night…. I will review the book later but for now I would describe it as very similar to the book Labor Day…. but a heck of a lot steamier.  ;)

 

 

Morning Meanderings… Preparing To Meet The Queen!

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July.

I know right?  As of today we are 6 days out from our annual Queen Event for book club.  6 DAYS!!!

If you are familiar with our book club “happenings”  every July since… (hmmm…. I should know this) well, for many years, we dress up in formal wear and have a coronation for Bookies Queen of the year.  It comes from the book Same Sweet Girls by Cassandra King. (Yes,worth the read!)

2013 Bookies Queen Event, Book Journey, Sheila DeChantal

Bookies Queen Event 2013

We usually grill, talk books, eat lots of tasty foods… and have a LOT OF FUN!  The competition is all in fun.  And the girls really get into their speeches…

Brendas dress

Brenda’s dress last year was partially made of book. MADE OF BOOK! Genius!

 

2012

Queen Event 2012

 

and I think I mentioned delicious food…

2012 food

 

2011

Queen Event 2011

 

2011 - OW!

2011 was also the year that I had sprung my wrist and broke my finger while riding in a 150 mile bike ride. But… the event must go on…. bling included ;)

2010

Queen Event 2010

Alright… now I am getting into this… maybe I will save more for Saturday snapshot.  And I must prepare my speech…. I think I have an idea…

 

Book club people – do you do things above and beyond the books?  IE.  potlucks, dinners out, movies, road trips?  I would love to know :)

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