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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)

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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.  😉

 

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!

Morning Meanderings…. A Two Person Book Club

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It’s raining here in central Minnesota.  I have the back door to the deck open so I can listen to it.  It is almost soothing and makes me think that this is good reading weather.

My Mom’s sister, my Aunt and I have become closer over these hard months of impossible change.  She lives just a few homes down from us and she has been very kind by visiting often, calling to check in, and just being there in general.  In the early months she would always come to me, and now that I venture out a little more… I stop by to see her.  We have coffee, occasionally I will bring her something I have made like white chicken chili, soup, or apple pie… (to this day I still cook too much food for Al and I).  We will chat about life happenings, memories, and surprisingly….

books.

I did not know my Aunt was a reader.  In all honestly – I am not sure she knew she was one either.  This summer she had knee surgery so I put together a care basket for her knowing she would not be able to do much for 6-8 weeks.  I put together magazines, coffee, chocolates, Kind bars, hand lotion, movies, and of course books to pass the time.   I had no idea what she would like to read if she did read so I guessed…

my original delivery consisted of:

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When she finished those and gushed over Mary Kay Andrews I sent her home with these…

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Success again….  and we were talking books at our weekly get togethers either on the phone or at one another’s home. So then I went with more discussion worthy reading…

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She loved the Help and is currently reading Gone Girl which I have told her to call me when it goes crazy and assured her… she would know when that was. 😉

I find many things very satisfying about our time together.  One…. obviously it is nice to connect and I value the time I have with her.  Two…. I love the idea that it really only takes two to make a book club (my Bookies Book Club started with 3). I also very much am aware that in a time when statistics say that reading books is on the decline due to the increase in the use of technology through our phones and having movies/video games and pretty much anything at our fingertips 24/7…. I find it both enlightening and positive to think that many of us, like my Aunt… had forgotten their enjoyment of digging into a good book.  It just took another book lover to show them the way.

Anything is possible.

I know… there is another post in there somewhere…