Category Archives: Book Club

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.  😉

 

Between The World And Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates w/ Bookies Book Club Review

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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.

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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.

Ideas….

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)

 

Morning Meanderings…. The Book…. It Is Not About

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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.

Today I will talk about the book.

anthony doerr, book journey, all the light we cannot seeOur 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

 

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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.

 

It’s Not Always About The Book

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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.

And then…

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The visiting, the glass of wine, catching up on conversations and lives….

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and the food…

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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”)

PicMonkey Collage 1PicMonkey Collage 3PicMonkey Collage 2

Don’t forget…. 1st book of the year is just around the corner!

Bookies Review, Food, and Getting Into Character With Gone With The Wind

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There is a reason our book club has a wait list.

We..

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!!!

And then…

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..

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The Bookies…

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!

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There she is… in the back to the left with a halo…. yes Gone With The Wind fans…. Lori dressed up as….

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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…

nicely played.

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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….

PicMonkey Collage

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).

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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?

1Gone 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.

Please click here for group discussion questions and ideas for a group review

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

2 eggs

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 9 inch pie crust

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

I am linking this post to both Saturday Snapshots and Weekend Cooking.

Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell

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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.

 

Did-You-KnowAuthor, 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.