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.

 

The To-Hell-And-Back Club by Jill Hannah Anderson

Jill Anderson is a Friend of the Brainerd Public Library, on the Wine and Words committee, and a personal friend of mine…  I can not be more thrilled for her and her first book as well as having the chance now to share it with all of you.

~Sheila

Peyton Brooks has plans for her life now that her youngest has graduated.  She has left that her life has been put on hold for years and now – finally she feels that she can start her life by moving on from her marriage that has never even held a spark.

When tragedy strikes, taking away those that Peyton was closest to, she is left reeling.  How do you go on when your support team is no longer there?  How do you even breath when all you want to do is wish that you were gone as well?

The Hell and Back Club seems to hold the answers.  Connected to a group of women who have their own personal hell, Peyton starts to learn to deal with not only the present situation, but also the past in ways she never dreamed possible.  Yet just as she seems to think she is moving forward in small ways, she uncovers secrets about her friends that spirals her downward again….

This was my travel book when I went to the Book Expo this year.

How much can we really know anyone?  Even those closest to you can be holding on to the deepest and darkest of secrets…  and Peyton needs to come to terms with her own as well.

This is one of those books that I look at and think, why didn’t I think of that?  While this book hits on a hard topic for me, Jill Anderson did an amazing job of covering details and hitting on the emotions involved in such a story.  I was impressed by the details and the strong emotions that I felt as the story line unfolded.  Always a fan of books about friendships and strong women, I found The To Hell And Back Club to be a book that had this in spades.

As each character was flushed out I could see how they all fit into Peyton’s life and why.  Living in the area that Jill talks about in this book, I loved being able to visualize the places the group frequented and the roads they traveled.

I highly recommend this book to fans of strong women and  friendships.  I believe this would make for a great book club read as there is so much to discuss about friendships, and tragedies, and the moments that change us forever.  I am so excited to read the next book that Jill writes and see where that takes me!

Jill and I at a recent event

 

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The Nest by Cynthia-DAprix-Sweeney (book and audio)


The Nest was read by book club The Bookies in May as well as was the May Books Burgers and Brews choice.  I listened to this on audio….

`Sheila

 

The Plumb family has their share of dysfunction with a capital “D”.  The adult Plum siblings struggle with many things including one another, so for the most part they just keep apart.  This is all fine and well until the oldest brother Leo gets himself in a little trouble with a waitress and a car accident that leaves the family loaded in bills…  bills that are paid with the nest egg that had been set aside for the Plumb children to each have a fair share once the youngest turns 40…

Each of the Plumb siblings have been waiting and banking at that money for different reasons…  some had big plans… others have already spend it just waiting for the money to be released to cover what they have done…

As the Plumbs scramble to figure our what to do they come face to face with many realities and hard facts as well as coming together in ways they had not done since they were children.

My book club The Bookies reviewed this in May.  There were mixed thoughts on the book but wonderful discussion on siblings and the dynamics of relationships as you grow and have your own families.  It was also interesting to discuss the nest egg, as what do we expect in todays day and age and how has that changed  in modern-day compared to many years ago.

This book was liked, but not loved – finding in some cases that each siblings story line at times felt choppy or unfinished as characters were introduced and then gone.
From the audio book perspective, I enjoyed Mia Barrows narration very much and feel that may have given me a better experience over those who read the book, although I do agree there were story lines I would have liked to have known more about.

As I mentioned, Books, Burgers and Brews also discussed this book.  Prairie Bay once again outdid themselves on a great menu to go along with our book discussion.  This discussion with around 27 people was much the same as The Bookies.  The book was liked, and there was much to discuss, but no one loved it.

As per tradition, Laurel and I always drink the drink special.  So here’s to you Leo.  Or here’s to you Plumb family….

How about you?  Have you read this book?  Do you agree with this assessment or did you have a different take away?

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman narrated by George Newbern (Recommended by Bookies Book Club)

3a - Copy

Ove is the kind of man most tend to avoid.  He is 59 years old and retired.  He likes things the way he likes them and that is all.  He is a rule follower.  He doesn’t understand people who just can’t mind their own business and for Gods sake.. follow the basic rules.  Most refer to him as a crabby old man and worth avoiding but Ove could care less.  Is he supposed to plaster a stupid smile on his face and pretend that the local idiots are ok?  Ove doesn’t think so.

Then one day new neighbors move in and in the princess of doing so they hit Ove’s mailbox because clearly they have no idea how to back up a U-Haul.  Seriously?   And they are chatty… this family of “The Pregnant One”, the “Lanky One” and their two little ones. What Ove does not expect is how much this family will turn his world around… in surprising ways for all involved.

 

A Man Called Ove was our book club pick for April.  Having just come off a not-so-delightful read, A Man Called Ove sounded lighthearted and funny and who doesn’t like that?  For myself, I listened to it on audio and enjoyed the narration of George Newbern, a narrator to keep an eye (or ear?) on as he has narrated several audio books I have thoroughly enjoyed.  While I enjoyed this book, and occasionally smiled at the things that Ove would say or do, it was not the funny award-winning read that I had hoped for.  This could be because I may not have been fully engaged when listening to the audio, or it may just not have lived up the hype that I was expecting and that in a nut shell is the problem with hype.  🙂  It may have been better not knowing any opinions on the book prior to listening.

My book club, The Bookies, all read the book version.  There was great discussion over the different themes that flow through this book:  depression, self-worth, relationships at all levels, the importance of community…  listening to them share about the book I almost wish I would have read it just for the fact that I think that I may have not been in the right frame of mind for such an audio and missed some things by listening instead of reading in this particular case.

Over all the bookies rated this one in the high 4’s to 5 on our scale of 1-5 on book ratings.  They enjoyed Ove very much and we all discussed the Ove’s we have in our own life.  I actually came in at the lowest rating of a 3, which is not bad.  I found it to be an average read, good but not over the top great.  Perhaps this is one I need to someday read again.

If you read my morning post you seen all the delightful food we had centered around this book.  We tried a few Swedish recipes.  I made a sausage and potato hot dish as Ove liked to eat that dish every day.   Oh… Ove.  🙂

 

Why A Man Called Ove makes for a good book club book:

The book lends itself to many topics that are discussion worthy…. relationships, generations, suicide, depression, aging…

As I mentioned, most of us know an “Ove”, someone set in their ways and see things as black and white and never gray.  Talk about your “Ove”.  How do you relate to this person?  Do you see underneath the hard structure?

The Swedish background allows for some creative food to go with your discussion.  There is a lot of food and drink mentioned within this book and experiencing this as a group is fun.

Several movies come to mind when you are discussing AMCO.  Consider watching one of these movies with your book group… Grumpy Old Men, Gran Torino, About Schmidt, As Good As It Gets…

 

 

  • Listening Length: 9 hours and 9 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Dreamscape Media, LLC
  • Audible.com Release Date: August 5, 2014

 

 

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.  😉