A Monster Calls By Patrick Ness (w/ Bookies Book Club review)

Patrick Ness has amazed me with his writing in the past (his Chaos Walking series is still a book series I recommend to those who enjoy YA Dystopian like myself).  A Monster calls, while completely different – still rang true with the unique writing style of Ness that I find irresistible.  ~Sheila

 

13-year-old Conner is having nightmares.  His nightmares in fact are so dark that he dare not speak them out loud.  So when the Yew Tree comes to him at night furiously pounding on the walls of Conner’s house, Conner proclaims he is not scared, he has seen worse. 

Yet the Yew tree returns to his again and again, big and looming with a message that he claims had been beckoned by Conner himself.  Although Conner claims that he could not have possibly called upon the tree. 

Conner’s mother is sick with Cancer and his Grandmother is making herself a little too at home for Conner’s liking.  When Conner’s father shows up after a long absence Conner starts to wonder how seriously sick is mom, and does anything going on with her or what is happening at school have to do with the trees visits?

 

While you may say this is a children’s book – I believe this book offers so much more.  I found the writing to be deep, profound, and engaging.  The symbolism of the tree touched me.  Perhaps I was just in the right frame of mind to read – but I sat down Sunday afternoon and finished this that same afternoon.  It messed me up a bit emotionally, but Patrick Ness tends to do that anyway.

I look forward to seeing the movie.

The Bookies Book Club had a good discussion around this book.  Discussions of dealing with loss and letting ago of were tapped into.  For the most part we agreed it was a unique read, and while most of us enjoyed the book, a few did not.  Thus the beauty of a book club. 

We also had great food.  Early on in the book Conner and his mother are eating an Indian Dish called Chicken Vindaloo.  In this part of the book it is described as “they ate great plates of this and were farting and laughing by the time they got to the car.”

Of course I was curious about the dish and had to make it, teasing the Bookies that I was seeing if it would have the same effect on us.  As far as I know it did not, however we did not eat large plates of it (although I think I could have – it was pretty tasty.  😉

Great night with the Bookies.  A book I would recommend and would love to hear your thoughts on.  The movie is out and I am looking to give that a try as well. 

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green w/ Bookies Book Club Review


Ahhh John Green… you are one of those authors that can do no wrong.  When I hear you have a book coming out my spidey senses tingle and I eagerly await the release date to see what brilliance you are going to add to my life as well as how the tears will this time form in my eyes.  ~Sheila

 

16-year-old Aza is constantly in a battle with her own mind… germs, ways to die, diseases occupy her thoughts beyond her control.  She is trying so hard to be like everyone else but if they only knew.

When her friend Davis’s billionaire dad disappears and there is a hundred thousand dollar reward on the line, Aza’s best friend Daisy is eager to get involved solve what happened and claim that reward.  Imagine what they could do with that kind of money!  Aza wants to be a part of it all despite all that goes on within her, and doesn’t it just feel good to be of something?

A long time ago I was told that when someone reads John Green, their first John Green will be their favorite.  I will never know if that is true as my first John Green was The Fault In The Stars and yup – that was my favorite.  I have since read all of his books and still feel while they are good, nothing has come close to The Fault In The Stars.

Coincidence?

I still hold to that after reading Turtles All The Way Down.  The book is good, it is a John Green after all which is like owning something classy and name brand, like “OOOH… is that a John Green?”    Yet my thoughts, as well as my book club who recently read it, is there is no big WOW.  Much happens, and perhaps this one is sadder in its own way as a John Green book goes – and plenty to think about – yet left none of us with a big WHOA.

Should you read it?  Yes.  If you have liked John Green in the past, or even if you are new to John Green – yes.  It is after all a John Green… it is deep, it is about young adults, and it hold its worth, for me however it landed as an average read.

In Bookies fashion of course we had food for our review… there were plenty of Turtle candies, a mock turtle soup, and extras.  One of the girls even made turtle bars… gooey caramel and chocolate… need I say more?

The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond


Who wouldn’t want to enter a group of people who are all about strengthening their marriage… it sounds so innocent so amazing…  trust me – it’s not.   ~Sheila

In The Marriage Pact, Alice and Jack are newly married and receive an unusual gift from a client of Alice’s.  The gift is a beautiful wooden box that inside it carries a book called The Marriage Pact along with two pens, to sign the agreement.  The Marriage Pact, by all indications, is a group of married people who support and encourage one another.  There are good things to be reminded of such as…

Always answer the phone when your spouse calls.

Exchange a thoughtful gift monthly

Plan a trip quarterly

Never talk about The Pact to anyone

Alice and Jack want to give their marriage the best shot they can and feel The Pact would be a fun social and practical way to keep on the right track.    They sign the pact.

What Alice and Jack do not know, is that the pact, like marriage, is for life.  The Pact will go to great lengths to enforce the rules within…  once again reminding all of us – never sign something you have not thoroughly read…

*Whew*.  The Pact for me was a refreshing romp through something new and different.  I love books that go outside of the norm so such an unusual premise pulled me in from the beginning.   This was one of those books that I did not want to put down and read every chance I could.  As soon as I finished it I passed it to a friend, and then to my Aunt so she could read it as well.  And isn’t that the truth about great reads?  You want to share them with the world.

Highly recommended.  This one was read by our Book Club the Bookies (who also enjoyed it and the discussion) and I am hopeful that once it hits paperback we will have it as a Book In The Bag at the library as well so it can be used for a Books Burgers and Brews discussion.

My thoughts:  Read it.

Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris (Bookies Book Club Review) Audiobook review


A Bookies Book Club read and one I was glad I had an opportunity to explore….creepy good. 
~Sheila

 

Jack and Grace are the couple to envy.  Jack is handsome and attentive, has money, a good job, and charm… every girls dream in a guy…  he is contemplative to Graces beauty and shyness. 

But what happens behind closed doors?  Why is it that Grace never has her friends over that she used to hang out with all the time?  Why is that every time she is asked to go out to lunch she says yes, yet cancels hours before actually going?  And why is it the few places that you do see Grace, Jack is always there?  Always.   And Grace is looking thinner and thinner every time she is seen….

OOH yeah…  This was our Bookies Book Club pick for April.  The synopsis of this one made this book an easy win for our vote and we were not disappointment.  There is much that goes on in Behind Closed Doors and soooooo appropriately named.

Admittedly, I struggled a bit with Grace, it is no secret that I like to read about strong independent women and some of Graces choices (or lack there of)made me grit my teeth. The longer she stayed in the situation, the more power it seemed that Jack gained.  Of course on the flip of this – if Grace had been stronger…we would not have had this book.

Our book club had a good discussion over this book and the overall rating came in around a 3.75 out of 5.  For the most part the book was enjoyed.

Of course, we always need to get in to the book so here is our pictures from our review…

Recommended for book clubs because there is great discussion topics such as abuse, awareness, self-esteem….

Did you know that June is Audio book month?
I enjoyed this book on audio and loved the smooth narration by Georgia Maguire.

 

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Safe From The Sea by Peter Geye (audio book review) Bookies Book Club Read

First up…. I love Peter Geye.  He is genuine and funny and writes a pretty great story as well…  I hope you will indulge me here as I tell you about this one, and I do hope you pick up one of his books sometime soon.
~Sheila

When Noah returns home to the North Shores of Minnesota to be with his dying father, he has much apprehension.  After all Olaf, has been fairly estranged from his son for many years and an absent father since the since the ship he was on sunk and Olaf was one of the few survivors while his shipmates lost their lives to the harshness that can be Lake Superior.  Noah now married and trying to have a child with his wife, struggles with the decision to go and be with his father while at the same time, how can he not?

What Noah learns about his father, and the shipwreck changes Noah’s whole misconception of his father.  The time they spend together as Olaf shares what really happened that cold stormy night all those years ago, the first time he had ever shared the whole story with anyone.  As Olaf’s story unfolds, Noah comes to realize that one does not fully survive such a tragedy, and there is much more to his father then he had ever known…

My book club The Bookies, chose this as our June read.  Author Peter Geye is one of our Wine and Words authors coming this fall, and he was one of our authors in 2015 as well.  I was excited we chose this book to read as I had yet to read it.  Due to a busy June, I chose to listen to it on audio and I was so glad I did. Narrator David Aaron Baker lent the right voice to this book, while gardening, I was easily immersed into the lull of his voice as he brought forth the story of Noah and Olaf…

The Bookies enjoyed Safe From The Sea.  It was interesting as going in, for some reason I had my head wrapped around that this was going to be a “guy” book… meaning more appealing to men as it centered around a male protagonist, boats,and fishing.  I can tell you, I was wrong.  This book weaves a story of family, and tragedy, and coming to terms with what was and what is and what will be.  Well played Peter, well played.

The discussion was centered around family and around the setting as we all are familiar with the North Shore setting, the beauty of it and the dangers of Lake Superior.

Over all the book rated a fairly solid 4 our of 5 from the Bookies as a whole.

 

Did you know that June is Audiobook Month?
Be sure and try this book on audio –

recommended by Book Journey.

 

Morning Meanderings….. OH! What A Night!

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Good Morning!

I feel tired and energized all at the same time.  What is that???  😛

Yesterday I helped to continue setting up the book sale.  It is looking so good.  Today will be detail work…. hanging signs, prepping the Friends Of The Library table…  I am excited for the sale to start tomorrow morning.

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Yesterday evening, we had book club at my house.  We had decided to do soups and I was running around straightening the living room, chilling the wine, vacuuming the carpet, mopping the kitchen, and setting up chairs and little tables to set soup bowls on.  I made two soups – Chicken wild Rice to go with the book…. ha ha and a Squash soup because it looked YUMMY.  Lori in our group brought Chicken Tortilla soup. mmmmmmm

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It was a fun night.  While the book was not what we expected (more on that later) we always have such a  good time together.  This next month we are reading A Man Called Ove and I am excited for this one.  We used the book in the bag program from the library but I am thinking I may go audio…. I listened to a sample and I liked it!  It is also always fun to give an audio report on a book at the discussions.

Speaking of Audio, I signed up for the Audio Book Blogger of The Year which the winner will be able to attend the 2016 Audie Awards Gala in Chicago on May 11th.  I will be there for the Book Expo this year so thought I would throw my hat (ear?) into the ring.   I think it would be a BLAST!

So today, off to the book sale set up again, but should be home early today which makes me sooooo happy as I work the sale the next 4 days from open to close.  I may rent ROOM to watch tonight…. I have been excited to see how it is.

 

The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens – Bookie Book Club Review

bookies book club, The Life We Bury, Allen Eskens

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 🙂

 

Discussion Questions and ideas for your group

book journey, the life we bury

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.  😉