Friday, May 25, 2018

Still Me


Book: Still Me - Jojo Moyes

Members Present: Sharon, Cindi, Christy, Lorelei

Venue: Veranda Bistro

Discussion Highlights:

Only half the people read the book, and we didn't want to ruin it for the other 2, so we talked about it  in general terms. For those of you who aren't familiar with the series, the first book in the series was Me Before You--Moyes most famous book, and one of our all-time favorites. While funny and moving, it is also bittersweet, and a happy ending seems unlikely from the start, given that it begins with an accident that leaves Will Traynor as a quadriplegic and only agreeing to live 6 more months. Still, Louisa is adorable and immensely likable, and their love story is moving. The movie follows the book closely and is also great.

After You was pretty dark--primarily about grieving and finding love again. Not nearly as funny, and Louisa doesn't have the spark she had in the first book. While it does have a happy ending, I wasn't left feeling very happy after reading it. If it were a movie, it would be pretty depressing.

Unlike the other 2 books, Still Me, is a straightforward, light, happy read. Perfect for summer reading! Louisa is in full form--sweet, loving, funny, quirky. All of the other characters are interesting, as well. While you know there is going to be a happy ending, there are enough twists and turns to avoid a conversation of what happens so that the others could enjoy the book. If you read the first one but not the 2nd, you could easily skip the second and go to this one and not miss a lot.

Sharon and I have read Moyes' The Girl You Left Behind, which is a historical novel very different from this series but is also great, if you're looking for another good read.

Lots of updates on everyone's struggle with their dependents--including me! Parenting advice welcome.

Next Book:

Our next book will be Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty. Another author who is a book club favorite. She also wrote What Alice Forgot--my personal favorite--and The Hypnotist's Love Story. The book is also a mini-series. Lorelei will be hosting. We'll aim for July.

Until we meet again, happy reading!


Saturday, March 31, 2018

Before We Were Yours



Book: Before We Were Yours - Lisa Wingate

Members Present: Denise, Linda, Marie, Karin, Christy

Venue: Carrabba's

Discussion Highlights:

Many of us had not been to book club in a while, so we spent a lot of time catching up on life, tennis, and gossip. Along those lines, Denise got a new job, I went to Indian Wells with Karen Marchand, and Marie and I are hitting the gym and will see who can lift the most at the end of the summer. Bought 25 lb dumbbells after our meeting!

As for the book, if you haven't read it, it's a thumbs up from the group. It is based on a true story of an orphanage in Tennessee in the 30's owned by Georgia Tann, who got away with kidnapping/stealing poor kids and selling them to rich and famous people looking to adopt. Her treatment of the kids was atrocious, and she had politicians, judges, police, and tons of other high profile people in her pocket so she essentially got away with murder until the 50's, when she died of cancer. Even then, adoption records were sealed until the 90's because many of the adoptive parents were politicians. The last chapter where Wingate talks about some of the history of the orphanage is worth the read alone.

In the novel there are 2 alternating stories--one of Rill and her 4 siblings, poor kids who lived on the river and were kidnapped in broad daylight by the police, after their parents are tricked into signing them off to the orphanage. The other story is about Avery, who is visiting her parents in Tennessee and being groomed for a possible senate seat that her ailing dad currently occupies. She meets the elderly Rill--now named May--on a PR visit to a nursing home and finds out that she is somehow related to her grandmother and wants to find out how. Both stories are highly entertaining, and you don't know how they are going to come together until the very end.

The book is a quick read, and although the treatment of the children in the orphanage is shocking, there are no graphic details or traumatic accounts, so even if you don't like reading negative stuff (e.g., Marie), you'll still love it. I didn't have to take a single Ativan :).

Next Book:

Our next book is "Still Me," by Jojo Moyes. This is part 3 of the series that began with "Me Before You," our favorite book. It should be a quick read, so we'll aim for end of April to stay on track.


Thursday, January 25, 2018

I Loved My Life


Book: I Liked My Life - Abby Fabiaschi

Members present: Terrie, Cindi, Sharon, Linda, Sylvia

Venue: Sylvia's home. And Tacos! I love tacos :(.

Discussion highlights:

I wasn't there again, which is a record for me. My job is killing me. Not enough time for socialization, tennis, and working out! I will have to give a prize out to the person who makes the most meetings in 2018 to motivate me to push through. Although that's how I got in trouble in the first place.

Thanks to Terrie for sending the pic and the discussion highlights! Here are her comments:

For those who have not read the book - our suggestion is go for it. On a scale of 1-5, we all gave it a 4+

We did discuss the book Christy (and we missed our leader). Cindi brought us some questions. For those who missed think about the different relationships and which do you identify with in your own life? Did Eve and Brady’s relationship change at the same moment? Did you see how Maddie died coming? Did you like how 10 years closed the story? 

This was Abby F. First book and her second will be coming out this winter. Most likely a book club read.


Sue also took the time to type out Maddy's truths, so for those of you who didn't read the book (although I recommend that you do), here are some words of wisdom to ponder:

Make room for who you are by knowing who you’re not. Smile all the time, at everyone, without exception: when you’re happy it will be contagious, and when you’re angry it will drive the person you’re mad at bonkers. Blow-dry before lipstick. Counters before sweeping. Water before dinner. To hell with what everyone thinks about your life, but you should know what you think about it. Don’t’ stay out past one a.m.—nobody is proud of the stories born later than that. Plans contingent on perfection fail. It’s dangerous to fight who you are. The stupidest thing you can do is believe your own bullshit, but you probably will every once in a while. Flowery perfume smells like a cover-up. Don’t have a room your kids can’t play in or a couch your kids can’t sit on; it’s their house too. If you don’t know what to say, say, “I don’t know what to say.” If you mess up, say, “I messed up.” If you need help, say, “I need help.” Never count on any one thing. Don’t confuse wanting to have sex and rent movies with someone for wanting to marry him. Never buy button-fly jeans---they aren’t flattering on anyone ever. Practice love, compassion, and forgiveness. Try not to speak consecutively for more than two minutes; it’s hard to be a good listener longer than that. It’s good to have one friend who still smokes a lot of pot. It’s important to speak up even if no one will stand behind you. A home is something you create. Gatorade and greasy food cure hangovers. The impression you have of someone is most likely the impression they have of you (that’s why I’m so self-conscious around annoying people). Give yourself a break, but not a free pass. Never become a prize, possession, puppet, or toy---it’s no fun hanging on someone’s wall for any substantial amount of time. When someone gives you the creeps, don’t worry about their feelings or apologize, just get the hell away. Constantly earn the hearts of your friends and family, and expect them to earn yours back. Ask questions. Don’t give out answers you don’t have. Think before you speak. Sometimes you’ll lie, but have a person who knows both your truths and the lies you’ve told; pick someone who won’t judge you. Don’t give up on reading before you find a favorite book, and even then, I don’t recommend it. At the end of each day, acknowledge the things you wish you’d done differently so that tomorrow you will. We’re given the gift of life with the consequences of death.

Next book:

Our next book will be Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate. Sylvia or Cindi will be hosting. Very generous of you to do 2 in a row, Sylvia! You may get Best New Member! I love awards. In case you've already read it or finish the book quickly, others mentioned were Winter Garden and Between Friends.

Until February, happy reading!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Behind Closed Doors



Book: Behind Closed Doors

Members present: Sylvia (new member!), Denise, Cindi, Annette, Sharon, Sue, Lorelei, Tom, Karin

Venue: Denise's house (Venue of the Year!)

Discussion Highlights:

I wasn't there, but according to Lorelei, Cindi brought book club questions, so the meeting was conducted like a normal Book Club. Tom, special guest and chef, even chimed in. A good time was had by all.

I'm guessing people talked about me, because I was at home having a nervous breakdown since I had all these emergencies working into my schedule that day. But that's OK. That's the rule.

Next Book:

Sharon informed me that the next book will be hosted by Sylvia Dill, as is customary with new members. It is I Liked My Life, by Abby Fabiaschi. We will aim for January. Thanks for a great year of reading, discussion, gossip, and eating! And we met our goal of 6 books this year. Yay!




Linda's chocolate cake:

Ingredients:
1 stick margarine
1 cup Crisco
1 cup water
4 Tbsp cocoa
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 half cup buttermilk
Combine first 4 ingredients in a saucepan and bring it to a boil.  Pour over combined flour and sugar.  Add eggs, buttermilk and baking soda.  Mix all well.  Pour into greased and floured 13" x 9" pan.   Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes (or until cake tests done with a toothpick)  Pour icing over hot cake.

Sharon's cranberry brie bites:

Frozen mini fillo dough cups
1 wheel of brie
I used cranberry celebration from Kroger (in deli section)

Put a small piece of brie in each cup and bake at 350 for @ 20 minutes or until brie is melted.  Top each cup with a small amount of cranberry

Monday, October 9, 2017

The Couple Next Door


Book: The Couple Next Door - Shari Lapena

Members Present: Sue, Denise, Sharon, Christy

Venue: Alejandro's

Discussion highlights:

If you read the book, then you know that there isn't that much to discuss. This was Lapena's first book. She was a lawyer, so her info about a criminal investigation was probably accurate, but we all agreed it wasn't particularly well-written and wondered how it was possible that she could get a book deal with a major publishing company and that this book could be on the best seller's list. I have researched publishing my own blog, and while I haven't tried to do so, hearing how unlikely it would be to get published has been enough to make me give up. Sharon knows someone who published a book and only made about $4000 total. So if you want to publish a book, you should probably do it for other reasons than getting rich.

The story, however, was interesting and not predictable. It was also a quick read. But there wasn't much character development, and I thought it read like a draft of a paper that someone would present in a creative writing class. Compared to similar books that we've read--Gone Girl, Girl on a Train--this one was probably the worst, but still worth reading to find out what happens.

We did not discuss Small Great Things, other than to say it was a great book. I think that it would be more useful to make this book mandatory reading than to have any kind of diversity training, because she does a much better job of representing many viewpoints on the racism spectrum than any educational program I've been a part of. So if you haven't read either, I would read this one. Or anything by Jodi Picoult.

We didn't talk about any of you, so you can all safely return to the next meeting.

Next book:

Denise was prepared and ready to host the next book club. W we will be reading Behind Closed Doors, by B.A. Paris. It is of the same genre of The Couple Next Door, but much better. At least that's what Sharon said, because she's already read it. So if you have recommendations for her of what she can read, let her know. We are shooting for end of November/beginning of December for our next meeting.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Man Called Ove


Book: A Man Called Ove -  Fredrik Backman

Members present: Cindi, Linda, Terrie, Christy, Karin

Venue: Terrie's lovely abode

Discussion highlights:

We had a small but talkative group for our meeting, which adjourned at 11:30 pm! Excellent food, great conversation, and great venue!

We had a high completion rate for the book--4 out of 5 of the members present finished it, and 3 of the 4 who read it also watched the movie. If you haven't done either, I strongly recommend that you do both. We all agreed that it is up there with our favorite books of all time. It is a quick read, and some people chose to finish it in one day, while others tried to make it last as long as possible. Sort of like the opposite of the ripping off the Band Aid thing. I assume that the book was originally not written in English, which is surprising because it is very well-written. It has a unique voice, and I suspect that's part of the appeal. The chapters are short and each chapter has a memorable anecdote. Even though the story sounds like it's going to be a real downer, since it starts with Ove deciding to kill himself, and a lot of sad, tragic things do happen, but somehow the overall tone of the book is light and funny. Laugh out loud hilarious, in fact. Maybe it's because each chapter has a title and a drawing. How tragic can a book be that has a drawings in it?

Plus his suicide attempts were foiled by people who needed his help. Because they needed rides to hospitals after their husband fell off a ladder while trying to open a window from the outside. (Ove totally knew that was going to happen and didn't stop him so it's only fair that he had to take them to the hospital). Or because someone had fallen on the train tracks before he got a chance to jump. Or because a gay guy who was disowned after he came out to his dad needed a place to stay. Cindi described Ove as being someone who put up a front that he wasn't a caring guy, and everyone went along with it to humor him, but they knew he had a big heart. Too big, unfortunately.

This is not one of those times where you would want to cheat and see the movie instead of reading the book because I thought the tone of the book was lost in the movie, even though I thought the movie was very good. It has subtitles, just as a forewarning. And Ove's name isn't pronounced the way you were probably saying it in your head while you were reading. It took a while for Karin to realize they were even saying his name, because it does sort of sound like an expression, like hey.

Cindi pointed out that Sweden was a socialist country, which admittedly, I did not know, and all of the red tape and complaints about the white shirts refers to Ove's anger at the government for all of the real and perceived injustices he suffered. Taking away his house. The lack of compensation for the bus accident. The lack of wheelchair accommodations. Trying to put Rune away from his wife. (But Ove got the white shirts back on that one! Ha ha!)

I was annoyed that they made up some of the dialogue, because there's plenty of great dialogue in the book that they cut out. And the lines they made up were not of the same quality. But some of the details in the movie that they elaborated on were well done--like the scene where he got laid off and they gave him a shovel as a retirement gift. The bus accident scene was also very good in that it really highlighted how tragic it was. And his wife was even lovelier in the movie than she sounded in the book.

We also had a chance to talk about our last book, When Breath Becomes Air. One of the advantages of a smaller group and intimate venue. Although I like it when everyone shows up and we eat out, too.

Next book:

Our next book will be The Couple Next Door, by Shari LapeƱa. Since co-hosting went so well this time, thanks to Terrie, we will do the same thing for our July meeting. Linda has chosen the book and will set the date, Cindi will bring in some traditional book club info to raise us even further above the remedial status, and Terrie has agreed to provide her home again and do the pot luck details. We are aiming for the last week of July.

Until then, happy reading!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

When Breath Becomes Air


Book: When Breath Becomes Air - Paul Kalanithi

Members present: Annette, Shea, Karin, Sue, Christy, Marie, Denise, Sharon, Gina, Lorelei, Terrie

Venue: Mellow Mushroom

Discussion Highlights:

Admittedly, it was difficult to have a proper discussion because it's really loud in Mellow Mushroom. And there were so many members present--which is a good thing!--that you could only hear the people who were sitting next to you. But we did get a little discussion in. All of the people on my end of the table liked the book. We all thought he was brilliant. Some of us thought it was sad and others didn't, which was surprising to me. It's true that his writing style was not that emotional. And I guess if you have to die, it's good to know that you lived your life as purposefully as you could, that you were surrounded by your loved ones, and that your mental facilities were in tact. But I still thought it was sad. Sharon's argument was that he lived a very full life in a short amount of time.

We also discussed how sad it was that he didn't get to finish the book, which he really wanted to do. I can imagine him writing furiously in between surgeries and treatments and playing with his baby. But at least the last line he wrote was about how much joy his daughter brought to his life.

We also talked about tennis and finally had some good gossip to share. But if you weren't there, you miss out on the good stuff!

Next Book:

Our next book will be "A Man Called Ove," by Fredrik Backman, and I will be the host. I have to say, I didn't have high expectations when I started the book, but I liked it so much after the first few chapters that I would only read a chapter a night so that I could savor it for as long as possible. However, you could finish it pretty quickly if you're more of a binge reader. I will aim for the end of May for our next meeting.