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.

Morning Meanderings…. Now THAT is Classic. ;) A Bookies Event

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Three days in a row…. could it be?  😉

It feels as though I have just finished a marathon of back to back events… all good stuff.  The Friends Books Sale was a big chunk of time the last few weeks with the volunteer line ups, setting the sale, and working it.  Then on Monday the First Game Night at Prairie Bay was SO AWESOME, I was so tired going.. but so glad I went!  That brings us to last night, book club at my house….

wait.

what?

Whose idea was THAT?  😉

Yes yes… I apparently agreed a month ago that book club would be at my house.  I really don’t know what I was thinking as my house has been a tad bit neglected in recent days due to all the activity in my life.  It all worked out for the best though – put on a little audio and put the house back in order yesterday so we could review our Classic for the year:  The Beautiful and The Dammed by F Scott Fitzgerald.  Now I am not going to review the book part yet as I have not finished it myself (See my crazy life above)… however I will share with you the Bookies meet up.

First.. I think you all know I like to dress the occasion.  Classics can be a lot of fun for this and a chance to dress the 20’s era….

well then….

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We had a great time with the food as well… I do love setting the food to go with the era or the book setting.  In this case, I Googled the 20’s to see what I could learn about food and who knew?  Chicken Pot Pie was a 20’s hot item… as well as deviled eggs could be found at most social gatherings.

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and the Bookies added to the tasty goodies as well…

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And this was not all… I missed a picture of the delicious chicken that was served as well.

As always.. good food, good conversation… a lot of fun.  I do really enjoy days that go from tennis shoes… to party sandals.

 

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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

 

 

Morning Meanderings… A Man Called…..

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I am sitting here this morning with COFFEE CUP in hand contemplating the amazing way people intertwine in your life, weaving their way through certain parts of our lives.. filling a spot here, covering a need there…. conversations, and meet ups, and plans, and hang outs, and reaching into each other lives….

wow.

Last week was book club and that usually puts me in this place I am now.  Amazed at how people connect and what brings them together.  I adore my book club.  I adore the mix of personalities that become more and more vibrant as the years go on. The discussions and even just sitting back and watching how everyone interacts with one another.  At one time we were just a random group of girls who liked to read.  Together… we are magical.

Our review was for A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Bachman.

3a - CopyA grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.  ~Goodreads

 

We utilized our library’s Book Club In A Bag program and I chose to listen to it on audio.  More on the book itself in a post coming up.  The book was originally written in Sweden and is set in Sweden.  Our group had a wonderful time with the Swedish themed food for this review…Swedish Meat Balls,  Swedish fish, Persian cookies like those in the book, and even a swedish style cake.

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A+ for creativity Bookies book club!  I will say this, A Man Called Ove definitely brings out some good themes for discussing.  Seems like everyone has an “Ove” in their life. 😉

 

 

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.