Wednesday Feature Bookclub: The Bookies

Today I am featuring my own book club, The Bookies of Brainerd, Minnesota.  I am doing this because as of current, I have interviewed everyone who has expressed an interest in this Wednesday Feature spot.  Many of you have emailed me or left comments on the Book Club feature spot telling me how much you enjoy it.  Thank you for that – it has been fun doing it.  However, if readers who are in book clubs (offline or on) do not let me know they would be interested in being reviewed for this spot, this will be the final Book Club feature until there are book clubs to interview.

Today – please welcome a book club I personally adore:  The Bookies!!!!!

The Brainerd Bookies
The Brainerd Bookies

How long have we been meeting?  Our first meeting was August of 2001, so 8+ years.  December of this year will be our 100th meeting.

How often do we meet?  We meet monthly on the 2nd Tuesday of each month.

Where do we meet?  It changes month to month.  Each member has a month to choose where we meet. W e have met at restaurants, homes, coffee shops.  We try to keep it fun.  Last month we were at a members home in her backyard and we grilled and had a bonfire.  I love that we do this stuff!

How many members do we have? Currently if everyone made it, we have 18.  We never all make it though so a usual meeting is around 12 to 14.

What age group do we represent?  That’s a tough one as I am not good at guessing ages…. I would say we have mid 20’s to maybe 65?  We are all women although it was never a criteria… just happened that way.  Some of the husbands we refer to as “behind the scenes Bookies” as they read many of the club books as well but do not attend the meetings.

What genres of books do we read? We are all over the board.  Women’s literature, fiction, the occasional non fiction, Classics, historical fiction, mysteries…

How do we choose what we will read?  Each month after our review we have a time where each member can nominate a book.  We limit it now to one book per member as it is easy to want to recommend 2 or 3 and the list of choices gets too long.  Most months we ask that the book is fairly new so we can find enough copies for all of us.  It also needs to be in paperback/over sized paperback format to keep our cost down.  Each member recommends the book they choose and a bit about the book.  When all nominations are in, we go around the room and we each get two votes.  Highest number of votes wins.  In the event of a tie, the Queen chooses – but that’s another story.  In October we always do a Classic, December we try to keep it Christmas related, February is a romance and July is free read month where we meet and potluck.

What was one of the best discussions and/or a favorite book we read as a group? Oh there are so many!  One that comes to mind is last years read of Philippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl.  I think that is the first time we almost all gave it our highest rating…. we loved it.  I asked everyone to trace back to some of their ancestors for this review and we had a lot of fun with that!

Another review, more recent was Meg Waite Clayton, The Wednesday Sisters.  While the book over all rated an average read – the discussion that came out of it was fantastic.

Bookies Queen Event 2009How do we keep things fun? We sometimes have potlucks at homes centered around the book theme.  Last September we read Wicked and everyone brought something to my house for the potluck that was green.  I had made green egg salad sandwiches (with food coloring), we had green almond bark, green soup, green chips and dips, apple martinis, and more.  In another book we celebrated a birthday of a character by actually having a birthday cake with her name on it.

Of course there is always the July Queen event where we all dress up in formal gowns and have speeches to be the Queen of Bookies.  The nominated Queen reigns for one year, receives the royal throne, crown and scepter.  She breaks all ties in voting and chooses where we meet in the event the member who  is suppose to choose is absent.

Have we done anything outside of our monthly meetings?  We have attended a few movies through the years of books we have read.  We once had a movie showing at my house of a book we had read.  Some of the girls this last December went to see the play Wicked in Minneapolis.  I wanted  to go so bad but I was in a wedding on that same day.  A few of us have also attended an authors tea.

What advice would we give to other book clubs? Don’t give up and keep it lite and fun.  We started 8 years ago with 3 members.  It took a while to grow.  We keep things light, we discuss the book, we theme the book…. in the future we have discussed having a favorite fiction character party.  Just do what you love…  read books and hang out with friends!  I have met some great people through our group.

If yo are in a book club and would like this feature spot, please email me at

I will then send you interview questions and request a picture or two of your group.  You send back the questions and I will give you a date as to which Wednesday you will be featured.  If you have a blog, I will link it your review.

Thanks everyone – that was fun!  🙂

Morning Meandering…

I am up and active and I even have Coffee Put with me (YES!!!)!  Chance has a bus pass!  a big improvement

Pause for gratuitous dance in my living room…

It may not seem like a big deal but it has earned me about an hour of free time between the running to school and going back at 3:15 to pick him up.

This morning, I want to talk about a set of books that have been on my mind lately….over at J Kaye’s Blog I had read about the 39 Clues by Patrick Carman.  I believe I have seen these or at least one of them on another blog prior to this, but something about the way J Kaye talked about these books made me really dig into what she was saying.  I think these would be books that Chance and I could enjoy together.  There are currently 5 books out and J Kaye reports that the series will end with a total of 10 in 2010.

I encourage you to go visit J Kayes Blog (it is a ROCKING blog by the way)… read about the books and see if they peek your interest.  They have mine and are on my wish list tab now.

*Stay tune as in a couple hours my Wednesday Book Club Feature is making what could possibly be its final showing here.  I hope not, but that will be up to all of you my wonderful readers and especially those of you in books clubs.

It’s Tuesday, Where Are You?


This is hosted by An Adventure in Reading

I am in Rome with Alexander and Selene, the orphaned children of Marc Anthony and Cleopatra.  We have just returned from an execution and I am horrified.  As we are going to the Ludi Romani, we are discussing Selene’s sketches for a home for the foundlings (the homeless children).  I like that Selene is so caring and we are well on our way to becoming fast friends… if only Julia would go away and allow Marcellus to follow his heart which at this time, I am believing really must belong to Selene.

Page 211 of Cleopatra’s Daughter by Michelle Moran

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller


Reading this book was like having Donald in my living room having a great conversation about life.  Invite this book over for coffee.  ~ Sheila

Years after writing his best-selling memoir, Donald Miller went into a funk and spent months sleeping in and avoiding his publisher. One story had ended, and Don was unsure how to start another.

But he gets rescued by two movie producers who want to make a movie based on his memoir. When they start fictionalizing Don’s life for film–changing a meandering memoir into a structured narrative–the real-life Don starts a journey to edit his actual life into a better story. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years details that journey and challenges readers to reconsider what they strive for in life. It shows how to get a second chance at life the first time around.

Blog Tour
Blog Tour

My Thoughts: I read Blue Like jazz by Donald Miller quite some time ago and really enjoyed his insight.  I find myself in that same place again… Donald Miller writes in my language.  In a down to earth, fun way… I read this book in one sitting because putting it down was not an option.  Because reading A Million Miles in a Thousand Years was like having Donald Miller over to my home where we sat and we talked.  This reads like a conversation.  A really good conversation.

Opening this book and reading the opening sentences, “The saddest thing about life is you don’t remember half of it.  You dont even remember half of it.  Not even a tiny percentage…”  Right away that hit home for me.  Occasionally something or someone will trigger this far away deeply buried memory where I will suddenly recall a tiny bit of a different season in my life.  Not only does it surprise me how easily it is to forget moments of your life that were once a very important part of who you were… but I also find it scary.

In this book Donald works on making changes to “his story” the story we will all someday share with God.  In reading this book… I knew, I too wanted a better story.  Once again Donald floors me with his honest look at his own life and in a humorous manner he once again shows how messy our lives are and that’s ok.

A win for Donald Miller and for me.  A read that goes on the keeper shelf to be read again and again.  This book hits the book stores today.  I recommend this as a must read for 2009.

A exert from the book:
A Million Miles In A Thousand Years by Donald Miller

I received this book from review from Thomas Nelson Book Reviews

31 Hours by Masha Hamilton

High tension, high action, I will read Masha Hamilton again.

~ Sheila

31_hours_coverIn the middle of the night in New York City, a woman jolts awake, realizing she hasn’t heard from her 21-year-old son in weeks, and knowing beyond doubt that something is wrong.

His girlfriend doesn’t know why he won’t answer his cell phone or why he doesn’t call anymore.

What we know is that the young man, Jonas, is isolated in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge, pondering his recent conversion to Islam and the training he received last year in Pakistan. Alone now, cut off from all dissuasion, Jonas is shaving his legs, eating a gyro, listening to the passing subways and preparing himself for the once unthinkable action he has been instructed to undertake in exactly 31 hours.

His sudden absence from the lives of those who love him causes a cascade of events that span the city. As Hamilton’s intense novel moves through the streets and subways of New York, we come to know the fears and prayers of its characters. We also learn to feel the connections and disconnections that occur between people who have loved one another, not only here, but in the Middle East.

Blog Tour
Blog Tour

My Thoughts: When I signed on to read this book I chose it as I found it to be refreshingly different than anything I had read before.  That is usually a draw for me… and I was not disappointing by Masha Hamilton’s book.  The background setting of this book – a subway – a mother’s intuition – New York – time  ticking away…

In a word I found this book breathtaking.  The tension I felt from  Carol, the mother, really hit home for me… I could imagine that feeling; all worried about your kid – no matter how old they are (been there – done that).  And all you have to go on is  a feeling. The fact is, I am not sure if this was a read that I would have chose off the book shelf – the terrorism in the book was way out in left field for me and while incredibly intense and interesting…. I felt as though I didn’t let my guard down for the entire book…  Is that possible? And maybe, that’s the way it was suppose to be.

And then…. as suddenly as it began… it reached the ending that left me still unsure if it was time to let go of the breath that I had been holding in for the better part of the book.

I  feel as though I am still processing this book.  I think Masha Hamilton has a well written novel here – with incredibly real characters.  I did enjoy this sometimes difficult read and would like to read more of what she has written. A definite unique read that starts with a shock of adrenaline and  continues to keep the heart rate rising from there.


Masha Hamilton is the author of four acclaimed novels, most recently 31 Hours (2009), an Indie Choice pick by independent booksellers, which Publisher’s Weekly called “gorgeous and complex.” “You don’t just read this gut-wrenching book; you become part of it in a deep, primal way,” wrote founder Lois Alter Mark. Hamilton is also the founder of two world literacy programs: the Camel Book Drive, begun in 2007 to supply a camel-borne library in northeastern Kenya, and the Afghan Women’s Writing Project, begun in 2009 to foster creative and intellectual exchange between Afghan women writers and American women authors and teachers.

This book was sent to me for review by Unbridled Books

Morning Meandering….

a big improvementEver have one of those mornings that you meander no further than your email box?  I just did….  woke up and prepped for my day out the door 30 minutes later with Chance to school and now I am in the office using the 15 minutes I have before I officially “go to work”.

So with Coffee Cup now in hand… I have opened my email to discover this list of the current New York Times top 10 List.  What a great list!  I really want to read The Lost Symbol (currently #1!),

The Last Song by Sparks (#2) I would like to read – but it is not a must read for me.

#3 I am really excited about – The Help is going to be our first online book club read and is currently waiting on my shelf!  (Still time to join in on this group read!)

#4… I actually prefer the movies in this case to the actual Alex Cross books by Patterson….

#5- I have never read Pat Conroy or #6 Clive Cussler

#7… I covet.  It’s true.  I have entered contests for this book and have not won…. I will have this book!  🙂  I must read this book!

#8  Charlaine Harris is an author I want to read as I have heard so much about these books – but as of this date, I have not read her.

#9 I have heard a bit about by reading blogs… not sure if it is a fit for me or not

and #10… I don’t think I have heard of this one.

How about you?  Any must reads or have read on this list?  Any other books that should be on this list?

“The Lost Symbol” by Dan Brown
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“The Last Song” by Nicholas Sparks
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“The Help” by Kathryn Stockett
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“Alex Cross’s TRIAL” by James Patterson
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“South of Broad” by Pat Conroy
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“Spartan Gold” by Clive Cussler
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“The White Queen” by Philippa Gregory
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“Dead and Gone” by Charlaine Harris
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“The Girl Who Played with Fire” by Stieg Larsson
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“A Gate at the Stairs” by Lorrie Moore
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