Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Book for May--E's pick

We had a great book club tonight, thanks for hosting Eleanor!!  

Our next book...Survivor: A Novel by Chuck Palahniuk

Monday, March 16, 2009

April Meeting

. . . will be on April 9th at 6:30, hosted by the lovely Eleanor (insert evil laugh) :)


We will be discussing Tasha's latest pick, Driving with Dead People: A Memoir by Monica Holloway.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

March Meeting

The March meeting will be held on Thursday, March 12th at 6:30 pm at Tasha's house. See her email for the address.

We will be discussing The Book of Vice: Very Naughty Things and How to Do Them by Peter Sagal. I can't wait for the discussion!!

The next book has already been chosen (and some of us have already read it :)). It is Driving With Dead People: A Memoir by Monica Halloway. Tasha and I found copies on the bargain table at Barnes and Noble. According to the website, Northgate, Downtown, U Village, and Bellevue all have bargain copies in stock. You can reserve one online and then pick it up if you like. I can't remember what the price was, but it was under $10 I believe. I have also finished mine, so someone can borrow it (the first to ask) as long as they promise to give it back.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

CURRENT: The Poisonwood Bible


Another great meeting!  Dana selected the next book and chose The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.  It should be widely available as it has been out for awhile and was former Oprah book club selection.  The next meeting with be hosted by Leslie and will be held on Thursday, February 5 at 6:30 p.m.
 
From Publishers Weekly
In this risky but resoundingly successful novel, Kingsolver leaves the Southwest, the setting of most of her work (The Bean Trees; Animal Dreams) and follows an evangelical Baptist minister's family to the Congo in the late 1950s, entwining their fate with that of the country during three turbulent decades. Nathan Price's determination to convert the natives of the Congo to Christianity is, we gradually discover, both foolhardy and dangerous, unsanctioned by the church administration and doomed from the start by Nathan's self-righteousness. Fanatic and sanctimonious, Nathan is a domestic monster, too, a physically and emotionally abusive, misogynistic husband and father. He refuses to understand how his obsession with river baptism affronts the traditions of the villagers of Kalinga, and his stubborn concept of religious rectitude brings misery and destruction to all. Cleverly, Kingsolver never brings us inside Nathan's head but instead unfolds the tragic story of the Price family through the alternating points of view of Orleanna Price and her four daughters. Cast with her young children into primitive conditions but trained to be obedient to her husband, Orleanna is powerless to mitigate their situation. Meanwhile, each of the four Price daughters reveals herself through first-person narration, and their rich and clearly differentiated self-portraits are small triumphs. Rachel, the eldest, is a self-absorbed teenager who will never outgrow her selfish view of the world or her tendency to commit hilarious malapropisms. Twins Leah and Adah are gifted intellectually but are physically and emotionally separated by Adah's birth injury, which has rendered her hemiplagic. Leah adores her father; Adah, who does not speak, is a shrewd observer of his monumental ego. The musings of five- year-old Ruth May reflect a child's humorous misunderstanding of the exotic world to which she has been transported. By revealing the story through the female victims of Reverend Price's hubris, Kingsolver also charts their maturation as they confront or evade moral and existential issues and, at great cost, accrue wisdom in the crucible of an alien land. It is through their eyes that we come to experience the life of the villagers in an isolated community and the particular ways in which American and African cultures collide. As the girls become acquainted with the villagers, especially the young teacher Anatole, they begin to understand the political situation in the Congo: the brutality of Belgian rule, the nascent nationalism briefly fulfilled in the election of the short-lived Patrice Lumumba government, and the secret involvement of the Eisenhower administration in Lumumba's assassination and the installation of the villainous dictator Mobutu. In the end, Kingsolver delivers a compelling family saga, a sobering picture of the horrors of fanatic fundamentalism and an insightful view of an exploited country crushed by the heel of colonialism and then ruthlessly manipulated by a bastion of democracy. The book is also a marvelous mix of trenchant character portrayal, unflagging narrative thrust and authoritative background detail. The disastrous outcome of the forceful imposition of Christian theology on indigenous natural faith gives the novel its pervasive irony; but humor is pervasive, too, artfully integrated into the children's misapprehensions of their world; and suspense rises inexorably as the Price family's peril and that of the newly independent country of Zaire intersect. Kingsolver moves into new moral terrain in this powerful, convincing and emotionally resonant novel. Agent, Frances Goldin; BOMC selection; major ad/promo; author tour.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Read it, laughed a lot

Hope everyone is enjoying the book and staying sane!!!

See you soon!

Lisa

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Holidays on Ice

What a great time last night! The food was wonderful (Jackie will give me the recipes to post) and the discussion was very lively. I have been doing some research on our big topic and will let you know what I find out :)

As our hostess with the mostess, Jackie selected our next book and chose Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris. She recommended getting the 2008 edition because it contains a couple of stories that are not in the paperback version. Amazon.com has the book for $11.55. Barnes & Noble has it for $11.89 online ($10.70 if you are a member) and appears to have it in stock at several local locations (though it might not be discounted in store).

Here's what amazon has to say about it:

Product Description

David Sedaris's beloved holiday collection is new again with six more pieces, including a never before published story. Along with such favorites the diaries of a Macy's elf and the annals of two very competitive families, are Sedaris's tales of tardy trick-or-treaters ("Us and Them"); the difficulties of explaining the Easter Bunny to the French ("Jesus Shaves"); what to do when you've been locked out in a snowstorm ("Let It Snow"); the puzzling Christmas traditions of other nations ("Six to Eight Black Men"); what Halloween at the medical examiner's looks like ("The Monster Mash"); and a barnyard secret Santa scheme gone awry ("Cow and Turkey").No matter what your favorite holiday, you won't want to miss celebrating it with the author who has been called "one of the funniest writers alive" (Economist).




Dana will be hosting our next meeting on Wednesday January 7, 2009 and after all of the grief that she was giving Jackie about the book exchange, I expect something fun and exciting from her :)

If anyone has any book reviews or books that they want to read, etc., send that info to me and I will post it here (or you can post it yourself--4 of you accepted the invitation to become blog authors so you have access already). Just let me know. I don't mind posting if that helps. I don't mind the self-appointed title of Administrative Goddess!

Is anyone having trouble getting the books and being able to read them within the month? I know that ordering online can save money, but it might shorten your time. If we find that is an issue, we can have the selections announced a couple of weeks early. Thoughts?

Also, newbies, feel free to jump in to host--we want to see what books you will pick!

Chloe, feel free to post info about your trip and photos from it if you would like as well. And anyone else that has stories, ideas, etc. Eleanor, you can even post in your secret code! :)

Okay, enough rambling for now!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Three Cups of Tea

I next selection, chosen by moi is Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson. Amazon has it for $9 (click here).

Here's a synopsis taken from Barnes & Noble's website:

Synopsis
The astonishing, uplifting story of a real-life Indiana Jones and his humanitarian campaign to use education to combat terrorism in the Taliban's backyard
Anyone who despairs of the individual's power to change lives has to read the story of Greg Mortenson, a homeless mountaineer who, following a 1993 climb of Pakistan's treacherous K2, was inspired by a chance encounter with impoverished mountain villagers and promised to build them a school. Over the next decade he built fifty-five schools-especially for girls-that offer a balanced education in one of the most isolated and dangerous regions on earth. As it chronicles Mortenson's quest, which has brought him into conflict with both enraged Islamists and uncomprehending Americans, Three Cups of Tea combines adventure with a celebration of the humanitarian spirit.


Next meeting will be at Jackie's place on Wednesday December 3rd at 6:30 pm (Note different day than usual).

We will be doing a book exchange for the holidays, so bring a book to share!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Three Cups of Tea Reading Guide

Here is a reading guide with discussion questions by Penguin.com:

INTRODUCTION

Three Cups of Tea is the true story of one of the most extraordinary humanitarian missions of our time. In 1993, a young American mountain climber named Greg Mortenson stumbles into a tiny village high in Pakistan’s beautiful and desperately poor Karakoram Himalaya region. Sick, exhausted, and depressed after a failing to scale the summit of K2, Mortenson regains his strength and his will to live thanks to the generosity of the people of the village of Korphe. Before he leaves, Mortenson makes a vow that will profoundly change both the villagers’ lives and his own—he will return and build them a school.

The book traces how Mortenson kept this promise (and many more) in the high country of Pakistan and Afghanistan, despite considerable odds. The region is remote and dangerous, a notorious breeding ground for Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists. In the course of his work, Mortenson was kidnapped and threatened with death. He endured local rivalries, deep misunderstandings, jealousy, and corruption, not to mention treacherous roads and epic weather. But he believed passionately that balanced, non-extremist education, for boys and girls alike, is the most effective way to combat the violent intolerance that breeds terrorism. To date, Mortenson’s Central Asia Institute has constructed fifty-five schools, and his work continues.
Mortenson initially approached Karakoram as a climber and he never lost the mountaineer’s appreciation for the region’s austere beauty and incredible physical challenges. His coauthor David Oliver Relin deftly evokes high-altitude landscapes haunted by glaciers, snow leopards, and the deaths of scores of climbers. As Mortenson transformed himself from down-and-out climbing bum to the director of a humanitarian enterprise, he came to appreciate more and more deeply the struggles that people of the region endure every day—struggles that have intensified with the recent explosion of war and sectarian violence.

In the course of this narrative, readers come to know Mortenson as a friend, a husband and father, a traveling companion, a son and brother, and also as a flawed human being. Mortenson made enemies along the way and frustrated his friends and family. Relin does not shy away from depicting the man’s exasperating qualities—his restlessness, disorganization, sleeplessness, and utter disregard for punctuality. But Mortenson never asks others to make sacrifices that he has not already made himself time and time again.

The war-torn mountains of Pakistan and Afghanistan appear in the news as the breeding grounds of terrorist training camps, Al Qaeda hide-outs, and fierce religious extremism. In Three Cups of Tea, Mortenson and Relin take readers behind the headlines to reveal the true heart and soul of this explosive region and to show how one man’s promise might be enough to change the world.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Greg Mortenson is the director of the Central Asia Institute. A resident of Montana, he spends several months of the year in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
David Oliver Relin is a contributing editor for Parade magazine and Skiing magazine. He has won more than forty national awards for his work as a writer and editor.


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

There is a telling passage about Mortenson’s change of direction at the start of the book: “One evening, he went to bed by a yak dung fire a mountaineer who’d lost his way, and one morning, by the time he’d shared a pot of butter tea with his hosts and laced up his boots, he’d become a humanitarian who’d found a meaningful path to follow for the rest of his life.” What made Mortenson particularly ripe for such a transformation? Has anything similar happened in your own life?

Relin gives a “warts and all” portrait of Mortenson, showing him as a hero but also as a flawed human being with some exasperating traits. Talk about how Relin chose to write about Mortenson’s character—his choice of details, his perspective, the way he constructs scenes. Is Mortenson someone you’d like to get to know, work with, or have as a neighbor or friend?

At the heart of the book is a powerful but simple political message: we each as individuals have the power to change the world, one cup of tea at a time. Yet the book powerfully dramatizes the obstacles in the way of this philosophy: bloody wars waged by huge armies, prejudice, religious extremism, cultural barriers. What do you think of the “one cup of tea at a time” philosophy? Do you think Mortenson’s vision can work for lasting and meaningful change?

Have you ever known anyone like Mortenson? Have you ever had the experience of making a difference yourself through acts of generosity, aid, or leadership?

The Balti people are fierce yet extremely hospitable, kind yet rigid, determined to better themselves yet stuck in the past. Discuss your reactions to them and the other groups that Mortenson tries to help.

After Haji Ali’s family saves Greg’s life, he reflects that he could never “imagine discharging the debt he felt to his hosts in Korphe.” Discuss this sense of indebtedness as key to Mortenson’s character. Why was Mortenson compelled to return to the region again and again? In your opinion, does he repay his debt by the end of the book?

References to paradise run throughout the book—Mortenson’s childhood home in Tanzania, the mountain scenery, even Berkeley, California, are all referred to as “paradise.” Discuss the concept of paradise, lost and regained, and how it influences Mortenson’s mission.

Mortenson’s transition from climbing bum to humanitarian hero seems very abrupt. However, looking back, it’s clear that his sense of mission is rooted in his childhood, the values of his parents, and his relationship with his sister Christa. Discuss the various facets of Mortenson’s character—the freewheeling mountain climber, the ER nurse, the devoted son and brother, and the leader of a humanitarian cause. Do you view him as continuing the work his father began?

“I expected something like this from an ignorant village mullah, but to get those kinds of letters from my fellow Americans made me wonder whether I should just give up,” Mortenson remarked after he started getting hate mail in the wake of September 11. What was your reaction to the letters Mortenson received?

Mortenson hits many bumps in the road—he’s broke, his girlfriend dumps him, he is forced to build a bridge before he can build the school, his health suffers, and he drives his family crazy. Discuss his repeated brushes with failure and how they influenced your opinion of Mortenson and his efforts.

The authors write that “the Balti held the key to a kind of uncomplicated happiness that was disappearing in the developing world.” This peaceful simplicity of life seems to be part of what attracts Mortenson to the villagers. Discuss the pros and cons of bringing “civilization” to the mountain community.

Much of the book is a meditation on what it means to be a foreigner assimilating with another culture. Discuss your own experiences with foreign cultures—things that you have learned, mistakes you have made, misunderstandings you have endured.

Did the book change your views toward Islam or Muslims? Consider the cleric Syed Abbas, and also the cleric who called a fatwa on Mortenson. Syed Abbas implores Americans to “look into our hearts and see that the great majority of us are not terrorists, but good and simple people.” Discuss this statement. Has the book inspired you to learn more about the region?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

finish line in sight and can't wait for wed!

i was losing the love at page 100 but by the time i reach 150 and learned the meaning behind "3 cups of tea" i'm charmed by this book all over again!

jackie: what's the format, will we get Qs in advance? will there be a dramatic reading of our fave passages?

show me the way...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

i'm a sucker for good descriptions, here are a few faves

"Mortenson watched a flock of swallows rise all at once, still in the shape of the tamarind tree where they'd been perched..." p 59



"We breathed in air of utter satisfaction, eternal peace...All this gives rise to the a question. Isn't it better to live in ignorance of everything - ashphalt and macadam, vehicles, telephones

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Baked Apple Recipe

I figured we can share the recipes here too...

Baked Apples

Warning...I didn't really use a recipe, so this is going to be a very rough guide :)

Ingredients:

Apples
Brown Sugar (about 1 Tbsp per apple)
Vanilla (a splash)
Cinnamon
Nutmeg
Pecans

Heat over to 400 degrees.
Core the apples, but not all the way through. Scrap out seeds.
Mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl, I am not sure about quantities, I just put some in. More cinnamon than nutmeg. Add a splash of vanilla. Mix in the pecans. Spoon this mixture into the holes you have made in the apples. Put them in a pan and add about a quarter inch of water. Pop in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes or until soft by not mushy. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Books We Want To Read

I took the posts from the prior blog and compiled them here. If you want to add to the list, "edit post" and add it here (or if you comment I can add it to the post). I am also adding info about the books in case people are interested. If you want to make a comment about the book and why you want to read it, please do so. Maybe we can use a different color font for our personal comments?...Play with it, see what works!

Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen (Jackie, Lisa) (Lisa: I own this book already)
Synopsis from B&N:
As a young man, Jacob Jankowski was tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. It was the early part of the great Depression, and for Jacob, now ninety, the circus world he remembers was both his salvation and a living hell. A veterinary student just shy of a degree, he was put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It was there that he met Marlena, the beautiful equestrian star married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. And he met Rosie, an untrainable elephant who was the great gray hope for this third-rate traveling show. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and, ultimately, it was their only hope for survival. )

A Million Nightingales by Susan Straight (Jackie)
Synopsis from B&N: Synopsis
A haunting, beautifully written novel set in early-nineteenth-century Louisiana: the tale of a slave girl’s journey—emotional and physical—from captivity to freedom.Susan Straight has been called “a writer of exceptional gifts and grace” (Joyce Carol Oates). In A Million Nightingales she brings those gifts to bear on the story of Moinette, daughter of an African mother and a white father she never knew. While her mother cares for the plantation linens, Moinette tends to the master’s daughter, which allows her to eavesdrop on lessons. She also learns that she is property, and at fourteen she is sold, separated from her mother without a chance to say goodbye. Heartbroken and terrified, and with a full understanding of what she will risk, Moinette begins almost immediately to prepare herself for the moment when she will escape.It is Moinette’s own voice that we hear—bright, rhythmic, observant, and altogether captivating–as she describes her journey through a world of brutality, sexual violence, and loss. Quick to see the patterns of French, American, and African life play out around her, Moinette makes her way from sugarcane fields through mysterious bayous to the streets of Opelousas, where the true meaning of freedom emerges from the bonds of love. An uncommonly rich novel, brimming with event and character, A Million Nightingales is a powerful confirmation of the remarkable novelist we have in Susan Straight.)

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (Chloe, Jackie)
Synopsis from B&N:
The action follows 11-year-old protagonist Lyra Belacqua, accompanied by her daemon, from her home at Oxford University to the frozen wastes of the North, on a quest to save kidnapped children from the evil 'Gobblers,' who are using them as part of a sinister experiment. Lyra also must rescue her father from the Panserbjorne, a race of talking, armored, mercenary polar bears holding him captive. Joining Lyra are a vagabond troop of gyptians (gypsies), witches, an outcast bear, and a Texan in a hot air balloon.

In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez (Jackie)
Synopsis from B&N:

An ALA Notable Book. Julia Alvarez's eagerly awaited second novel is a powerful story of courage, innocence, and political martyrdom in the Hispanic Caribbean. Based on actual events--the death of three sisters on November 25, 1960--the novel immerses us in an epoch in the life of the Dominican Republic. The "Butterflies," as they were known, lived daringly and dangerously under a regime that imprisoned, tortured, and killed with impunity. "Brimming with warmth and vitality . . . Mesmerizing."--Kirkus Reviews, starred; "Potent and luminous."--Philadelphia Inquirer. A BOOK-OF-THE-MONTH CLUB and QUALITY PAPERBACK BOOK CLUB SELECTION.

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (Chloe, Jackie)
Synopsis from B&N:

“Ten days after the war ended, my sister Laura drove a car off a bridge.” These words are spoken by Iris Chase Griffen, married at eighteen to a wealthy industrialist but now poor and eighty-two. Iris recalls her far from exemplary life, and the events leading up to her sister’s death, gradually revealing the carefully guarded Chase family secrets. Among these is “The Blind Assassin,” a novel that earned the dead Laura Chase not only notoriety but also a devoted cult following. Sexually explicit for its time, it was a pulp fantasy improvised by two unnamed lovers who meet secretly in rented rooms and seedy caf├ęs. As this novel-within-a-novel twists and turns through love and jealousy, self-sacrifice and betrayal, so does the real narrative, as both move closer to war and catastrophe. Margaret Atwood’s Booker Prize-winning sensation combines elements of gothic drama, romantic suspense, and science fiction fantasy in a spellbinding tale.

Snowflower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (Jackie, Lisa) (Lisa: I own this one already too).

Synopsis from B&N:

Lily is haunted by memories–of who she once was, and of a person, long gone, who defined her existence. She has nothing but time now, as she recounts the tale of Snow Flower, and asks the gods for forgiveness.In nineteenth-century China, when wives and daughters were foot-bound and lived in almost total seclusion, the women in one remote Hunan county developed their own secret code for communication: nu shu (“women’s writing”). Some girls were paired with laotongs, “old sames,” in emotional matches that lasted throughout their lives. They painted letters on fans, embroidered messages on handkerchiefs, and composed stories, thereby reaching out of their isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments.With the arrival of a silk fan on which Snow Flower has composed for Lily a poem of introduction in nu shu, their friendship is sealed and they become “old sames” at the tender age of seven. As the years pass, through famine and rebellion, they reflect upon their arranged marriages, loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood. The two find solace, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive. But when a misunderstanding arises, their lifelong friendship suddenly threatens to tear apart.Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is a brilliantly realistic journey back to an era of Chinese history that is as deeply moving as it is sorrowful. With the period detail and deep resonance of Memoirs of a Geisha, this lyrical and emotionally charged novel delves into one of the most mysterious of human relationships: female friendship.


The Shock Doctrine: The Rise and Disaster of Capitalism by Naomi Klein (From Chloe: this comes highly recommended by a political-junkie friend. It outlines how, while people are distracted by natural disasters, wars and economic upheavals, savvy politicians and industry leaders nefariously implement policies that otherwise never would have passed).

Synopsis by B&N:
The bestselling author of No Logo shows how the global “free market” has exploited crises and shock for three decades from Chile to Iraq.


The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman: (From Chloe: Like I said, I’m reading this one right now and would be happy to pass it on if anyone is interested. Or, if you are all interested, I’ll choose it when it’s my turn again).
Synopsis from B&N:
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction. Brilliantly reported and beautifully crafted, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down explores the clash between the Merced Community Medical Center in California and a refugee family from Laos over the care of Lia Lee, a Hmong child diagnosed with severe epilepsy. Lia's parents and her doctors both wanted what was best for Lia, but the lack of understanding between them led to tragedy.

All About Love: New Visions by Bell Hooks (From Chloe: Another book I bought a year ago and haven’t gotten to yet. Publishers Weekly wrote “With an engaging narrative style, hooks presents a series of possible ways to reverse what she sees as the emotional and cultural fallout caused by flawed visions of love largely defined by men who have been socialized to distrust its value and power. She proposes a transformative love based on affection, respect, recognition, commitment, trust and care, rather than the customary forms stemming from gender stereotypes, domination, control, ego and aggression.”)
Synopsis from B&N:
"The word "love" is most often defined as a noun, yet...we would all love to better if we used it as a verb," writes bell hooks as she comes out fighting and on fire in All About Love. Here, at her most provocative and intensely personal, the renowned scholar, cultural critic, and feminist skewers our view of love as romance. In its place she offers a proactive new ethic for a people and a society bereft with lovelessness.
As bell hooks uses her incisive mind and razor-sharp pen to explode the question "What is love?" her answers strike at both the mind and heart. In thirteen concise chapters, hooks examines her own search for emotional connection and society's failure to provide a model for learning to love. Razing the cultural paradigm that the ideal love is infused with sex and desire, she provides a new path to love that is sacred, redemptive, and healing for the individuals and for a nation. The Utne Reader declared bell hooks one of the "100 Visionaries Who Can Change Your Life." All About Love is a powerful affirmation of just how profoundly she can.

The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold (Lisa: I have this one too)
Synopsis from B&N:

Synopsis
"When all is said and done, killing my mother came easily."
So begins The Almost Moon, Alice Sebold's astonishing, brilliant, and daring new novel. A woman steps over the line into the unthinkable in this unforgettable work by the author of The Lovely Bones and Lucky.
For years Helen Knightly has given her life to others: to her haunted mother, to her enigmatic father, to her husband and now grown children. When she finally crosses a terrible boundary, her life comes rushing in at her in a way she never could have imagined.
Unfolding over the next twenty-four hours, this searing, fast-paced novel explores the complex ties between mothers and daughters, wives and lovers; the meaning of devotion; and the line between love and hate. It is a challenging, moving, gripping story, written with the fluidity and strength of voice that only Alice Sebold can bring to the page.

Terrorist by John Updike 2006 (Dana: Takes place in current times, in the United States. A young, well meaning, fatherless high school grad gets invited into a Muslim community and encouraged to become a suicide bomber. Multiple perspectives on multiple characters. The end is constantly unpredictable. Updike gives a lot of punch, without being wordy.)

Fall on Your Knees by Ann Marie MacDonald. (Dana: Recommended by Oprah, has a Joyce Carol Oates touch . I couldn't put it down, but it is intense, not light, reading. Lives lost, babies drowned, generations of secrets and passions.)

Tracks by Louise Erdrich (Dana: I think I learned about this from Grant.) It is a page turner, gives the reader a sense of the Native American myth/ perspective and unique sense of humor.)

Seek the Living by Ashley Warlick (Dana: (an Oprah pick, I think) I gave this 4 stars in my journal, even though now, I can't exactly remember why ! I will have to reread it. Her writing style fascinates me: "Couples like us spill onto the street steadying each other home." "I look behind me as though I could trace myself backwards into the evening and figure it out.")

Dancing to Almendra by Myra Montero (Dana: (I just stumbled upon this at the library.) A well crafted mystery, with a parellel love story, set in the 50s Cuba. The Mafia is taking over casinos etc. mafia connecions between the US and Cuba, told by a young reporter, who (I think) is often worried that he is finding out too much for his own good. Translated from the Spanish edition.)

World War Z



Eleanor picked World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks

From B&N:

Synopsis
“The end was near.” —Voices from the Zombie WarThe Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years.Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the twelve-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Africa, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies redoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War. Most of all, the book captures with haunting immediacy the human dimension of this epochal event. Facing the often raw and vivid nature of these personal accounts requires a degree of courage on the part of the reader, but the effort is invaluable because, as Mr. Brookssays in his introduction, “By excluding the human factor, aren’t we risking the kind of personal detachment from history that may, heaven forbid, lead us one day to repeat it? And in the end, isn’t the human factor the only true difference between us and the enemy we now refer to as ‘the living dead’?”

Shoe Addicts Anonymous



Leslie picked Shoe Addicts Anonymous by Beth Harbison

From B&N

Synopsis
For fans of Sophie Kinsella and Emily Giffin—a hilarious, heartwarming novel about four women, one addiction, and the unlikely friendships they forge over a common love of shoes

Empire Falls



Tasha picked Empire Falls Richard Russo.

From B&N:

Synopsis
With Empire Falls Richard Russo cements his reputation as one of America’s most compelling and compassionate storytellers. Miles Roby has been slinging burgers at the Empire Grill for 20 years, a job that cost him his college education and much of his self-respect. What keeps him there? It could be his bright, sensitive daughter Tick, who needs all his help surviving the local high school. Or maybe it’s Janine, Miles’ soon-to-be ex-wife, who’s taken up with a noxiously vain health-club proprietor. Or perhaps it’s the imperious Francine Whiting, who owns everything in town–and seems to believe that “everything” includes Miles himself. In Empire Falls Richard Russo delves deep into the blue-collar heart of America in a work that overflows with hilarity, heartache, and grace.

Inheritance of Loss





Chloe chose The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai.



From B&N:



Synopsis
Published to extraordinary acclaim, The Inheritance of Loss heralds Kiran Desai as one of our most insightful novelists. She illuminates the pain of exile and the ambiguities of postcolonialism with a tapestry of colorful characters: an embittered old judge; Sai, his sixteen-year-old orphaned granddaughter; a chatty cook; and the cook’s son, Biju, who is hopscotching from one miserable New York restaurant to another, trying to stay a step ahead of the INS. When a Nepalese insurgency in the mountains threatens Sai’s new-sprung romance with her handsome tutor, their lives descend into chaos. The cook witnesses India’s hierarchy being overturned and discarded. The judge revisits his past and his role in Sai and Biju’s intertwining lives. A story of depth and emotion, hilarity and imagination, The Inheritance of Loss tells a story of love, family, and loss.

Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time



Dana picked The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon.

From Barnes & Noble:

Synopsis
Christopher Boone is a fifteen and has Asperger's, a form of autism. He knows a great deal about math and very little about human beings. When he finds his neighbors's dog murdered he sets out on a terrifying journey which will turn his world upside down.

When I was Puerto Rican by Esmerelda Santiago



Jackie picked When I was Puerto Rican by Esmerelda Santiago.

From Barnes & Noble:

Synopsis
Esmeralda Santiago's story begins in rural Puerto Rico, where her childhood was full of both tenderness and domestic strife, tropical sounds and sights as well as poverty. Growing up, she learned the proper way to eat a guava, the sound of tree frogs in the mango groves at night, the taste of the delectable sausage called morcilla, and the formula for ushering a dead baby's soul to heaven. As she enters school we see the clash, both hilarious and fierce, of Puerto Rican and Yankee culture. When her mother, Mami, a force of nature, takes off to New York with her seven, soon to be eleven children, Esmeralda, the oldest, must learn new rules, a new language, and eventually take on a new identity. In this first volume of her much-praised, bestselling trilogy, Santiago brilliantly recreates the idyllic landscape and tumultuous family life of her earliest years and her tremendous journey from the barrio to Brooklyn, from translating for her mother at the welfare office to high honors at Harvard.

Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult



The first book that the club read by Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult.

Synopsis (taken from Barnes & Noble):

The acclaimed #1 New York Times bestselling author presents a spellbinding tale of a mother's tragic loss and one man's last chance at gaining salvation. Can we save ourselves, or do we rely on others to do it? Is what we believe always the truth? One moment June Nealon was happily looking forward to years full of laughter and adventure with her family, and the next, she was staring into a future that was as empty as her heart. Now her life is a waiting game. Waiting for time to heal her wounds, waiting for justice. In short, waiting for a miracle to happen. For Shay Bourne, life holds no more surprises. The world has given him nothing, and he has nothing to offer the world. In a heartbeat, though, something happens that changes everything for him. Now, he has one last chance for salvation, and it lies with June's eleven-year-old daughter, Claire. But between Shay and Claire stretches an ocean of bitter regrets, past crimes, and the rage of a mother who has lost her child. Would you give up your vengeance against someone you hate if it meant saving someone you love? Would you want your dreams to come true if it meant granting your enemy's dying wish? Once again, Jodi Picoult mesmerizes and enthralls readers with this story of redemption, justice, and love.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Book Review: The Mistress's Daughter


First a confession: I picked this book because I really liked the cover. The eyes of the girl on the cover spoke to me. So I grabbed it at Target and took it home to read. The Mistress's Daughter: A memoir by A.M. Homes. I didn't get pulled into the book quickly, but I did find it thought provoking and made me think about about my life. In the book Homes tells her account of when she found out that her birth mother was trying to contact her. This leads to rather interesting and unsettling knowledge about her birth parents and causes Homes to search out more information about her family--both her biological and her adoptive families. As I was reading this I couldn't help but thing about my family situation. Though not adopted, I do not feel like I am a part of my biological family--I am so different and no one seems to know what to do with me . So this has led to lots of long nights thinking about the nature of my family and where I fit into it--or probably more importantly, if there is even such a place that exists. So, the book really got me thinking, which means it was good for me in this context.

Ideas for Blog

We need to use this more :) Ideas that I have are to post our own book reviews or books that we want to read. Other ideas? I will start with a book review :)