Thursday, December 20, 2012

December 2012

Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13We had our annual holiday festivities at Natalie's home this year with our traditional ornament exchange.  The fun was enlivened by a call from Sue's son announcing his engagement, accompanied by cheers from all the girls over the phone. We read "Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13" and it got 4 stars from our reviewers.  Alison said, "This took me longer to read than I had hoped - but I think that's a function of my life, not a reflection on the book. Although I'll admit that much of the technological aspects of the story went right over my head, it was still very readable and I enjoyed it a lot. I've seen the movie version a couple of times and found that the book filled out the story quite a bit. I do think that the movie depicted the role of Ken Mattingly in bringing Apollo 13 home safely as more significant than the book seemed to imply - but maybe I just missed something in my late-night reading."
Sue said, "I found this just as engrossing the third time around as the first. It's a well-written tale that's page-turning and makes the technical aspects of the Apollo program understandable to the layman. Great story and characters."

Sunday, October 21, 2012

October 2012

Doomsday BookBecause of life changes among most of our members, we are choosing an every other month format in order to keep pressing forward.  So we'll only meet half as often, but we'll still get to meet.  This month our book is Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis.  We met at The Dodo for a great dinner.

This book got five stars from our group.

Sue said, "One of the best books I've read in a while. It drew me in from the first couple pages and the story never let up. It's part science fiction, part historical fiction, part medical thriller, and part religious exploration that's gripping and fascinating. The characters were of all ages and very interesting. Wonderful book!"

Linda said, "Loved this book and the lessons learned. It combines science and historical fiction. A great read for teens and adults. Thought about this book long after I finished it. To me that's the sign of a great book, one that makes me think."

Alison said, "Just as good - maybe even better - on this re-reading! Historical fiction. Travel travel. Spirituality. This book has it all!"

Karen said, "Sometimes you never get enough time at once to really read a book. Unfortunately that was the case with this book, it was read in stolen snatches of time over the course of 2 weeks. This book is part medical thriller, part time travel, part historical fiction. It tells two stories with connected characters in parallel hundreds of years apart. Kirvin traveling back in time to the 1300s to observe life there, while her contemporary counterparts struggles with the outbreak of the flu and the holidays in her time (around 2050). Interesting read, great book club selection."

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

August 2012

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

At the age of 21, Nell discovers that as a young child, she was found alone on a ship headed for Australia, and that the father she has loved for all these years is merely a man who found her.

Though they loved her like their own, Nell could not continue loving her family the way she had. In an effort of desperation, she sets out on her quest of self discovery, which leads her to the Blackhurst Manor just off the Cornish coast. It is here that Nell begins to piece together her history, learn the truth about her origins, and unbury the secrets of the Montrachet family.

However, it is Nell’s granddaughter Cassandra, suffering with her own abandonment issues, who finishes Nell’s journey and discovers the family’s darkest secret of all. After unexpectedly inheriting the Cliff Cottage on the grounds of Blackhurst Manor and its forgotten garden, Cassandra slowly finds the missing pieces of Nell’s history which lead to her own self discovery and healing. 

Holly says: This historical saga is filed with mystery and secrets, grand passions and tragic woes. It's certainly not great literature, but I loved the characters and the plot. It was a wonderful summer reading book and a delicious book to become lost in! 

Speaking of delicious, we met at my house for dinner and enjoyed a grilled shark fish—don't tell Natalie, the muscles freaked her out enough—and muscle stew. My not-so-forgotten garden provided the veggies for a tian, but the highlight was the peach dessert. Yummy!

Left to right: Sue, Leslie, Natalie, Me (Holly), and Alison. Missing (sadly!) are Karen and Linda.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

July 2012

Red Glass

Red Glass, by 

I really enjoyed this YA novel as it describes Sophie, a anxious teen, and her journey to Mexico. I loved all the characters, especially Dika, the Bosnian war survivor full of personality. The novel is amazingly multicultural, without feeling forced. The story deals with illegal immigration, guerrilla warfare, violence, family, love and loss in a very human way. Excellent novel."

Sue said, "Beautiful writing tells the tale of a teen with anxiety who learns that she can be strong. It's told within the context of illegal immigration, survivors of war and guerrilla activity, love for others who are different from yourself, and has some strong symbols of things people cling to when their world is shattered. Great read."

Thursday, June 28, 2012

June 2012

In June we met at The Lion House Pantry for lunch and a good discussion of The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner. We also discussed some of the history and "rules" of the book group so that Linda can write a paper about us for a class she's taking. One of the chefs took our picture for her. (We were missing Karen, who had family visiting from out of state.)

Back row (l-r) - Sue, Natalie, Holly. Front row (l-r) - Leslie, Alison, Linda.

The consensus on GoodReads of those club members who read The Shape of Mercy was three stars. Sue said she "liked the diary sections and found they were honest and real," but that the moral message was "a little heavy-handed." Linda said the book "was not very memorable" though she liked the setting. Alison said "there is good food for thought" but "the writing isn't stellar." Alison has also posted some discussion questions - some but not all of which we discussed at lunch - on her personal book blog here.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

May 2012

A Girl Named Zippy, by 

A Girl Named Zippy

Sue said, "This book is devised as a set of sketches, although the overriding theme is that despite the group of eccentric characters surrounding her, Zippy had a happy childhood. Some of the chapters reminded me of my own growing up years, especially the interior design chapter where the different craft crazes hit her town. It's a fast read and very enjoyable, with some laugh-out-loud sections."

Alison said, "More a collection of personal essays than a cohesive memoir, A Girl Named Zippy provided me with a week's worth of pleasurable commuting time. Laugh-out-loud funny at times, it also has some tender moments. I especially enjoyed Zippy talking about her relationship with her father and about her mother's faith."

I thought she was a good writer and it was funny at times, but there were other times I was just disgusted - like the description of the state of her house, her describing her vomit, etc.  Some of the things she did to deliberately humiliate the other kids, I thought were very unfunny.  It kind of bothered me that the author could be making money off  the story of her bad behavior as a child."

Monday, March 26, 2012

April 2012

Between Shades of Gray, by 

Highly recommended for both young adults and adults. An important story, beautifully written!"

Karen said, "I debated for a long time about how many stars to give this book. What I liked about it, was that it tells a story that has not been told already. This is the first book I have ever read about Stalin's treatment of the Lithuanians during WWII. It is told through the eyes of Lina, a young artist, taken with her family and falsely charged then imprisoned in a Siberian work camp. I loved the portrayal of a loving family. I always felt a little disengaged from the story though. In fact, half way through I picked up another book, and read it instead, then returned to this. Overall, it is worth discovering. I also liked this quote from the author at the end, "They chose hope over hate and showed the world that even through the darkest night, there is reveals to us the truly miraculous nature of the human spirit."

Sue said, "Moving story of the horrors endured by a Lithuanian family forcibly relocated to Siberia by Soviets during WWII. It's based on true stories from survivors of the forced labor camps and contains some truly horrific moments. It's definitely an older YA novel as it could be disturbing to younger readers and contains some language during stress situations. It's an important story that is well-told. I really loved it."

Monday, March 12, 2012