Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton

0 Loved It
3 Liked It
2 Neutral
2 Disliked It
0 Hated It

Comments:
• I appreciated the setting and historical context. At times, I felt the book’s pace was slow, and in these moments, I didn’t feel fully engaged. – Hillary
• I didn’t really care or like the story. It really did not show that people have any sort of control of self. – Sarah
• I was hoping to connect more with the book than when I was in high school I found it to be more slow, but I do respect the historical significance. – Chelsea
• I did not enjoy the writing style. It was engaging in the first half of the book, but I didn’t connect with the progression of the story. – Carrie
• I listened to the book. My experience seemed to be a little different than everyone else’s because the reader changed his voice/accent for the different characters and read the more lyrical parts with an almost musical cadence. I did however, agree that the second half was less interesting. – Danica
• I thought the book was an interesting and important book of the history and culture of South Africa. I’m glad I read it. – Steph
•I liked the way the book was written, the poetry of the descriptions of South Africa, and the different points of view. – Kerry

The Mirage Factory by Gary Krist

2 Loved It
2 Liked It
1 Neutral
0 Disliked It
0 Hated It

Comments:
• I haven’t finished it yet (so close!) but do far, I love it! The Amy Semple McPherson parts were the most interesting to me. – Chelsea
• I really enjoyed this book. I wouldn’t have read it on my own, but the commitment through book club inspired me and I was pleasantly surprised by how compelling the history was. Loved the choice to profile McPherson, Griffith, and Mulholland. – Hillary
• It was pretty interesting but at times I got really stuck in the history of the movie industry. – Sarah
• I really enjoyed learning about the history of LA through 3 people in this book. It was so interesting, but the writing style was not great. – Steph
• I understood the choice of profiling Mulholland and McPherson (who I never heard about previously) but I thought DeMille would have been a more Los Angeles story than Griffith because of Griffith’s deep roots and story telling about the South. I feel the only reason Griffith was chosen over DeMille was because of Griffiith’s downward spiral after talkies became popular. All 3 people profiled had a major downfall after riding high, DeMille worked vigorously until his death. – Danica

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

0 Loved It
0 Liked It
2 Neutral
1 Disliked It
0 Hated It

Comments:
• The book was slow at times but had some amazing imagery. – Sarah
• I tried so hard to finish this… and I did, albeit by watching a 10 hour Russian mini-series based on this in the middle and then finishing the rest. I had a really hard time keeping everyone straight which is normal for me, especially with Russian literature. – Danica
• I tried to get into this book but it didn’t hold my attention. I found there were many moving parts and I got a little bit lost. – Hillary
• I didn’t read it. Crazy month. – Steph

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

1 Loved It
5 Liked It
1 Neutral
0 Disliked It
0 Hated It

Comments:
• Most of the book dragged but there were parts that were really good. It was a very Lisa See book, the writing style was the same as all her other books. -Sarah
• It was slow for me to start, but I did enjoy it in time. – Chelsea
• It was interesting to read about a hill tribe in China after reading so many other books set in China. – Kerry
• I enjoyed this because because of the setting and the family saga woven throughout. The adoption thread felt very powerful. – Hillary
• I have always enjoyed Lisa See. The relationships and stories weaved together well. I enjoyed reading and learning about the hill tribes. – Carrie
• I enjoyed the arc of this story. In the beginning, I thought the story took place much earlier than it had. It was fun to follow along with the modernization of the hill tribe for the good and the bad. – Danica
• I enjoyed this book – a glimpse into a new world to me. I also liked the magical elements. – Steph

Mouth Trap by Rebbecca Brown

We went a bit out of our comfort zone to read Rebbecca Brown’s poetry anthology, Mouth Trap. Most of us haven’t read much poetry and were delighted to have had the opportunity for Rebbecca to join us for dinner, reading, and a discussion. We spoke about process, flow, succinctness, deliberateness, imagery in words, and personal experience.

February 2019 – What We Didn’t Choose

Caesar’s Last Breath: Decoding the Secrets of the Air Around Us by Sam Kean (New Release)
0 votes

Macbeth by William Shakespeare (Classic)
2 votes

Sarah brought these in and The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (Free Choice) was chosen as our book for April.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (Classic)
0 votes

The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor (Free Choice)
0 votes

Danica brought these in and The Mirage Factory: Illusion, Imagination, and the Invention of Los Angeles by Gary Krist (New Release) was chosen as our book for May.

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

0 Loved It
6 Liked It
0 Neutral
0 Disliked It
0 Hated It

Comments:
• It was fun and engaging; The science is questionable but reasonable enough. Also, I am always rooting for the dinosaurs. – Chelsea
• It was an interesting and fun read. – Sarah
• I hadn’t read this since high school. It was really fun to read. – Carrie
• I read JP when it first came out, and remember really liking it. I didn’t have the same experience this time. I had a hard tie keeping the characters straight, except for Ian Malcolm – who was of course Jeff Goldblum! I wonder id the movie spoiled it for me? – Kerry
• Something very different for me! I was entertained and I enjoyed the dinosaurs. I’m curious about science fiction after reading this. – Hillary
• I am so happy that I didn’t read this years ago. I found the speculative science on dinosaurs and cloning fascinating given that we know a lot more today with both animals being actively cloned and that there’s more evidence that dinosaurs were most likely were avian as opposed to reptilian. – Danica

December’s Book Club

17 years!!! As has been the tradition, we had our annual holiday/birthday party in lieu of an actual book club discussion, complete with gift exchange and our annual photo, this time at The Counter, Salt & Straw, and Bookstar. Thanks ladies for making it another great year!

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

5 Loved It
3 Liked It
0 Neutral
0 Disliked It
0 Hated It

Comments:
• This was my favorite book I’ve read all year. Amazing and inspiring characters, and beautifully written. To be read again… and recommended to friends with gusto! – Hillary
• One of the best books I’ve read this year. A story wonderfully woven, hitting on all kinds of issues. – Kerry
• I enjoyed the book more than I thought I would.There were great lines and insights in the immigrant and people of color experience. – Sarah
• Loved the characters and their journeys through life. Also really liked the commentary on race and the perspective it gives. – Beka
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The writing was very good and the characters were well developed. The point of view was interesting and informative. Glad I read this book. – Steph
• I enjoyed this read and at times couldn’t put it down. However, toward the end, I started getting annoyed at the characters. Now, looking back, I’m not sure how much I liked the story. I liked the themes, but not the characters. – Carrie
• This book was slow for me to fully commit to at first. Not that I didn’t enjoy it but I wasn’t sure I would emotionally commit, but I ended up committed and loved it.  – Chelsea
• I listened to this one and I became engrossed right away. The reader, Adjoa Andoh brought so much to it by changing her voice and cadence for each of the different characters. The perspectives and story still have me thinking about the African American experience contrasted with Africans visiting or immigrating to America and how different their paths and social outlook are. – Danica

Another Country by James Baldwin

0 Loved It
0 Liked It
2 Neutral
2 Disliked It
0 Hated It

Comments:
• I thought the book had a lot of stereotypes. I also really hated the first half because the characters were so despicable. – Sarah
• This was a difficult book to read for several reasons, especially the first part. The relationships between the rest of the characters was interesting. – Kerry
• While I appreciated the opportunity to read James Baldwin for the first time, I was disappointed and struggled to get through given the characters and their relationships. – Hillary
• Grateful for reading this historical perspective, but didn’t find it enjoyable, necessarily. – Chelsea
• I tried so hard, both reading and listening but I just couldn’t do it. I made it through the first part, slogged through the terribly abusive relationships and finally moved on to Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, which I got so much more out of. – Danica

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

2 Loved It
2 Liked It
1 Neutral
0 Disliked It
0 Hated It

Comments:
• I enjoyed the story, although the language could be a bit difficult to read through. Overall, a yes for me! – Kerry
• Loved the story and humanity. Liked the characters and adventures of life Janie went through. Impressed by the writing style and descriptions. More meaning in it than just a good plot line. – Beka
• I very rarely “love” a book, but I did love this book. As soon as I finished I wanted to start it again. Her writing was beautiful. – Steph
• I did not totally enjoy the prose. However, the storyline was great. – Sarah
• The most interesting part to me was thinking about the what Hurston’s life intersected and influenced her writing. The prose was beautiful and ,ade me think. – Chelsea
• I had some difficulty with the dialect in parts but was completely engaged in the story and adventures of the book’s heroine. – Danica

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

2 Loved It
3 Liked It
0 Neutral
0 Disliked It
0 Hated It

Comments:
• A little slow to get into, but by the end I was hooked on the story. So interesting on the history side and beautiful story! – Kerry
• I throughly enjoyed this book. The writing, the style, the characters, the pace, the setting… It didn’t make a profound impression on me. And I don’t know how long it will stay with me – but it was a very nice ride. – Steph
• I really enjoyed the writing style. However, I felt the book went a little long. The story was interesting and well told. – Sarah
• It was slow going for me. But I enjoyed it, especially the end and the way it all comes together – a little slow in the beginning. – Chelsea
• I found the setting and history fascinating and when my attention waned momentarily, I was sucked back in. – Danica

Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson

1 Loved It
1 Liked It
3 Neutral
1 Disliked It
0 Hated It

Comments:
• Honestly, I was more interested in Helen Hunt Jackson’s real life and the historical aspect of California. Some the prose was poetic. – Chelsea
• I didn’t get far enough to review, however, it hadn’t grabbed me… – Steph
• There were things I likes and things I didn’t. However, the writing style made it feel like a slog to get through. – Sarah
• I surprised myself and was totally immersed in the experience, time period and character development. The setting intrigued me, especially not being from Southern California and not learning this history in school. – Hillary
• The story moved way too slowly for me. I enjoyed reading about the places in California, but I didn’t think there was enough of the point of view of Native Americans. – Kerry
• I am happy that I finally read this one. I enjoyed the historical parts set in Southern California and reading up on the response and aftermath of the book, it’s inspirations, and tourist attractions. However, the story was not as informative about the daily lives of the Native Americans during this period as I had expected considering that Hunt Jackson wrote this to be the Uncle Tom’s Cabin for exposing the tribes’ plight. – Danica

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Movie Night & Potluck

A smaller group of us got together to watch A Tree Grows in Brooklyn from 1945. June was a little hard to schedule around and this was the only day that most of us could get together, only problem, it was too short of a time to tackle the next book. So in the spirit of summer, we gave ourselves an extra month to read while still getting together to watch a film adaptation of a book we’ve recently read. Hillary, Carrie, Sarah, & Danica gathered for a fun, relaxing night.

Sourdough by Robin Sloan

2 Loved It
2 Liked It
1 Neutral
1 Disliked It
0 Hated It

Comments:
• I found this book highly entertaining. I personally enjoyed the writing style and the amount of detail provided. I enjoyed Lois as a protagonist. I read the book while I was traveling to San Francisco, and yes!, this book reflects something of modern San Francisco entrepreneurial, elite and yet earthy “grassroots” culture. – Hillary
• I zipped through this one. I found the writing very inviting and humorous but also with many levels of depth. I found the “magical realism” to be more surrealism with a funny edge and was fascinated by some of the weirder details. I’m really happy we read it. – Danica
• I enjoyed reading the book, and dealt with the magical realism until the end when the magic tipped over the realism. – Kerry
• I couldn’t get into this book. The main characters were too unbelievable and shallow to me. – Steph
• It was good it was short. The magical realism felt very much like reading Tom Robbins which made the book more enjoyable. – Sarah
• I love the food element & the joy in it. Made me wnat to make bread! Loved the fairy tale element and the music. I want more from these characters. – Chelsea

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