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Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline, Sheila DeChantal, Book JOurney

Molly Ayer knows the Foster Care System all too well.  She has been a part of it for most of her life bouncing from one home to another.  Now at seventeen years old she is required to do community service for a petty theft crime.  She is required to go through an elderly woman’s attic and clean up, toss out, and organize the cluttered dusty boxes.  An undertaking that on sight appears impossible, especially since the widowed old woman Vivian, does not seem to keen on parting with her things.

As Molly explores the attic and what is inside the boxes, she discovers that Vivian too was part of a much earlier foster system called the Orphan Train. The Train would take children from stop to stop where families could come to the train and choose children to go home with them… that system unfortunately, worked about as well as some of it does still today. As Molly and Vivian spend their days together in the attic they learn of each others experiences with the foster care system, some good..and some bad.  Some times it was your wits and your desire to survive that pulled you through.

Both women find out that they have a lot more in common than one would ever guess by looking at them.

 

 

Orphan Train was our book club selection for August.  We chose this book because we won the books for our group from Harper Collins – woo hoo!!!!!!!!  AND the author Christina Baker Kline will be speaking in our town on August 12th, as it happens, our regular Tuesday that we hold our book club on.

Orphan Train turned out to be a delight.  As I had loaned my copy of the book out to a friend, I did not have one in my possession so I decided to try it on audio.  I had heard it was an excellent listen and that turned out to be true.  Narrator Suzanne Toren was perfect for this book.

I went into this book with little knowledge of what it was about other than the Orphan Train (*spoiler alert… it’s the title! ;)  )  I had not read any reviews of the book so even the format of going from Molly’s story to Vivian’s was a surprise and a pleasant one at that.

I enjoyed the storyline and the knowledge I picked up along the way regarding the Orphan Train.  It is a subject I hope to learn more about and I am hopeful that next week Christina Baker Kline will talk more about her research.

Historical Fiction fans will enjoy this read.

I will talk more about the Bookies Book Club thoughts on the book as well as the Author Event next week.

 

 

 

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 8 hours and 21 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • Audible.com Release Date: April 2, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Bookies Queen Event 2014

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This past Tuesday July 8th was our annual Queen event for 2014.  It is always a wonderful time of Food, Fun, and Friends, and of course… off with the old Queens head and on with the new… sorry Angie ;)

The evening was gorgeous, and I was so caught with everyone’s conversation and everything that I forgot to take pics of the food!

We started our evening with a “photo shoot” of those of us who dressed for the event:

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The speeches were awesome, poems, songs, bribing with candy…..

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It was a wonderful night.  In the end… we crowned a Queen:

 

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Congratulations Queen Sharon… she was the “Susan Lucci” of our group… runner-up for years, but never Queen!  :D

 

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This is our 8th Queen Event.  For more Queen Event pictures… see my past links here under Book Clubs.

 

 

 

 

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!

 

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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 :)

Weekend Cooking – Literacy and Food

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The bookies Book Club read and review Moloka’i by Alan Brennert this past week.  ,One of things I love about reading for book club is the opportunity to make something I probably never would have tried.  Miloka’i based in the late 1800’s Hawaii.  I made two things for this review, Sweet Potato Casserole and Poi.

For this weeks Weekend Cooking I will post both recipes.

 

Sweet Potato Casserole

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4-5 large sweet potatoes halved

4-5 bananas peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch slices

16 oz. crushed pineapple in own juice

1 cup light brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1 Tablespoon cold butter

2 tsp. salt

1 cup pineapple juice (saved off the crushed pineapple)

1 tsp. Lemon Juice

2 Tablespoons honey

 

Heat over to 350 degrees.  lightly butter bottom of a 9 x 13 pan.  Stir together brown sugar and cinnamon and set aside.

Place the potatoes into a pan of water that covers the potatoes and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer and cook 15 to 20 minutes until potatoes are tender.  Drain and let steam dry until you are able to touch, then peal the skin off the potatoes, rough chop and place in the 9 x 13 pan. 

Dot with the cold butter over the potatoes. 

Sprinkle the salt over the potatoes.

Arrange the bananas over the potatoes.

Sprinkle evenly with the brown sugar and cinnamon combo.

Top with crushed pineapple.

Whisk together the pineapple juice, lemon juice, and honey until honey is dissolved.  Pour over the top of casserole.

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Cook at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.

 

*This was pretty tasty.  The banana’s seemed odd but actually complimented the dish.  I thought it would be extremely sweet but it was not over the top.  I would make this again for a unique potluck dish.  ~Sheila

 

 

Poi

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You asked for the recipe… I am giving it but there is really not much to it. :)

2 pounds Taro Root (surprisingly I found this at my local grocery store)

water

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Taro

 

Bring taro root to a boil in 2 quarts of water.  Cook for about 40 minutes.  Drain, cool, and peal the root.  Rough chop taro into a bowl.  Blend in blender with 1 cup of water until smooth.  (There are more traditional ways to do this that involve a grass skirt, a smooth rock and a hollowed out piece of wood but I went “new school” and “got ‘er done”!) :)

 

A couple things about Poi.  There is one finger, two finger, and three finger poi.  This is because traditionally you scoop it up with your fingers.  The thicker the poi, the less fingers used.  I am happy to say, I made a one finger poi:

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Poi tasted like bland potatoes.  I was surprised when looking on line I could not find any variations of this recipe to jazz it up a bit.  I would have liked to have made three cheese poi, or fully loaded poi with garlic and sour cream and bacon… just saying ;)

And finally why is my poi white when traditionally it is purple?  I have no idea.  I was disappointing as I was looking forward to the bright purple I seen in pictures.  I Googled this question but came up with no answers. 

Moloka’i by Alan Brennert (Bookies Book Club Review)

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Small synopsis: Hawaii in the late 1800’s was a beautiful place but a potentially frightening one as well.  With the outbreak of Leprosy everyone was on the look out for anyone who may have this contagious disease.  When little Rachel “Aouli” Kalama found a sore on the back of her leg that would not heal.  She is eventually taken away from her family to live in Kaulapapa, an are off the island of Moloka’i for those with Leprosy.  Here is where Rachel lives her life.

 

 

In May of 2014, 15 of the Bookies Book Club showed up for a review of Moloka’i.  We sampled Hawaiian culture foods and discussed this read of a time in Hawaii most of us were unfamiliar with. 

Using the questions provided int he back of the book, we discussed Leprosy compared to the AIDS scare if the 80’s, and what that must have felt like at the time to those who were in fear for their lives and the lives of their families.  As in Rachel’s case, being taken away from her family had to be devastating on both sides; and Rachel’s diagnosis put a huge label on her family and even though they did not have it themselves they were shunned by their community.

Rachel herself makes for a great protagonist.  Learning at a young age that she was pretty much on her own, she has a strong will, but also a sensible one.  While she may stretch the boarders, she does have a wonderful sense of right and wrong and it shows throughout the storyline.

The Bookies overall enjoyed the book.  A few found it a bit drug out, certainly not a fast read at almost 400 pages, but filled with deep historical facts that made for a good read.

PicMonkey Collage

 

What makes this a good book club read?

Moloka’i does make a good book group discussion due to it’s historical nature.  There is plenty to discuss around the subject of Leprosy and what we can compare that to today.  The characters of this book and how they respond to Rachel is also discussion-worthy.  Once you label a person, how does that change us?  

The questions in the back of the book are great for the discussion.  There is also a section in the back of more detailed facts behind the fiction that makes for interesting follow up.  A group could bring items of Hawaiian culture or information off the websites marked in the back pages to add to this discussion. 

The natural deepness of this read also makes you feel like you read something important.  Deeper reads deepen your book discussions.

 

 

Morning Meanderings…. Bookies Night In! (w/Poi results!)

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Good morning!  Cup number two of coffee here….  deserved though… yesterday was pretty great. :D

I had yesterday off work to catch up on my house which lacked some attention in the past few weeks.  Then I spent the late afternoon preparing for book club which was to be at my home… Hawaiian Style after reading Moloka’i.  Bookies – true to form brought this book to the next level with food like Chocolate Mochi, Hawaiian roast, Sweet Potato Casserole, seafood salad, pineapple… more on that later.  ;)

As I mentioned yesterday I was going to try my hand at Poi; and I did.  It was not purple like I seen in the pictures on-line (still have not figured out why).  Warm, it tasted a little like a sticky potato product.  One of the girls said they heard it was better for you than potatoes. 

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It was not super hard to make but of course I did not sit in the lawn in a grass skirt and pound it with a rock and a board… no, I used my handy blender.  Aloha!

Then the real test was the thickness.  There is one finger, two finger three finger poi, depending on how many fingers it takes for you to scoop it up.  I am proud to say that I made a one finger poi.

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So that’s my night.  I need to get ready for work but watch for the Bookies thoughts on Molokai coming up later today. :D

Any Poi makers out there?  Why was mine not purple?

Bookies Review and Fun: The Secret Life Of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

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A few days ago I read and reviewed for the first time, The Secret Life Of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd.  This week, our book club The Bookies had the opportunity to discuss it.

On a scale of 1 – 5 (5 being the highest) the book rated mainly between 3.5 and 4.  The girls all agreed that they enjoyed the book.  While it was not one of those “WOW” that blew me away reads, it was an overall pleasant read with a nice mix of mid 60’s southern culture, and fats about honey and bees.

We discussed Lily’s home life situation with her father, and the loss of her mother.  We discussed the culture of the 60’s in South Carolina and what that meant at the time for a white girl to live among an African-American family.  (This still shocks me that this was really, not so long ago….)

Of course, we themed food and I found a fun little website called Book Menus that had a list of ALL the food in The Secret Life Of Bees.  Seriously, how cool is that?  We had pulled pork sandwiches and I made ham.  One of the girls had coleslaw and added peaches to it (delicious!) as peaches play a role in this book.  We had a pineapple strawberry upside down cake, orangeade, AND….

we had to try the coke and salted peanuts together like the y had in the book:

March cokew peanuts

Bookies, trying the coke with salted peanuts as Lily and August loved in the book, Secret Life Of Bees

Why is this a great book for book clubs?

The Secret Life Of Bees brings out some good discussion topics such as abuse, the loss of a mother and women who stand in as “mothers” in our lives.  There is also the topic of racial hatred and relationships among those of different backgrounds and color.  The book brings with it wonderful southern foods to try as well.

Morning Meanderings… What Makes A Book Club Work

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Yes, it is about that time of month again when I talk book club.  I can’t help it.  I love that group of girls so!  Tuesday evening while we sat around chatting before the review with plates full of food from the book ‘The Secret Life of Bees” and salted peanuts in coke (more on that later….), one of the girls said something that really touched my heart.

She said that she loved our book club and had to tell us why.  She had been in a book club before that just did not work.  She said that the group would have a book they would read but some would read it, most would not.  The group would gather and have wine and talk and rarely get to the book.  There was no one who brought questions to the group about the book or kept a discussion on track.

It’s no secret I love my book club. We have such an amazing group of ladies who each bring something to add to the group.  They are willing to dig in and discuss the hard topics, and laugh about the fun stuff. 

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It’s not always easy pulling off a book club night, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  I love planning the food around the book and it has stretched me to make new things and try different cultures.  Each book, even before I open that first page has me thinking, “what will I learn?  How can I implement that into the meeting?  What foods will me encounter?  What music?” Where can I get a skeleton?”  (Ok just kidding on that last one… at least so far ;) )

I love doing the extras for book club.  I love to fully experience the book.  Bookies has come a long way in our almost 13 years.  I wouldn’t trade a moment. 

Next book up…. A Constellation Of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra….

Oh the possibilities.

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