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To Hold the Crown by Jean Plaidy

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• I’m just about to finish it. I liked reading about the royal family and customs, but didn’t feel tied to any character. – Kerry
• I usually like this genre of book but this one was just not good. It jumped around too much and the author constantly repeated herself. Your time would be better spent reading something by Phillipa Gregory. – Sarah
• Do not expect this book to follow the description on the cover. It was good for what it was, but many parts of the story were redundant. I enjoyed it enough to finish it, but wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. – Carrie
• This one wasn’t very interesting to me, despite normally liking the genre. I never felt engaged with the characters, and felt like there wasn’t anything new to offer in telling this history. – Marlo
• I slogged through this even though being disappointed in the first 50 pages. She introduces a whole lot of densely packed history, characters and motivations in the beginning and then sort of gets into the story. As soon as you are attached to any one character, they are gone and you are back to reading about a bunch of things that don’t really matter and you really don’t care about. I agree with Sarah about reading Phillipa Gregory’s work instead. – Danica

Conclusion: Not much of a discussion went on except for voicing our dislike. It felt like there wasn’t much to say.

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

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2 Liked It
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• I enjoyed this book very much! I loved her writing and was so touched by the themes of how it feels to be an immigrant, Indian and even human. -Kerry
• I loved this book. Each story was so unique and had such great themes running through. The writing style was also quick and easy. It makes me hungry for Indian food, too. -Carrie
• Although I only read about a third of this, I am really enjoying it. The author has quite a way of portraying “quiet discontent” without making characters blatantly sad. There was a sense of acceptance of customs regarding family, mixed with a restlessness to break free of binding foreign cultures. -Marlo
• I enjoyed her writing style and really felt the theme as it wound itself through each of the stories. There were a few that hit very close to home and made me really sad, but I guess that means that the characters were relatable and believable. -Danica

Conclusion: We really didn’t spend much time on a discussion but I think it may have just been that we were really chatty this meeting. I had a really hard time getting everyone to focus on our regular book club business of choosing whose house next, a date, voting on a book and ordering.

Reading Group Guide

Dreams of My Father by Barack Obama

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• I enjoyed parts of the book. About halfway through I could have been done, but continued to gather more insight into the passions of our future president. Had he not been recently elected, I probably would not have finished. – Carrie
• I am in the first section and I am enjoying it. Plan to continue and finish this one. – Tami
• Very engaging. I enjoyed the personal voice and self deprecation humor that sprinkled the dialogue. I can’t help but wonder if I might have read it differently pre-presidential campaign. – Marlo
• I have to admit, I cheated a bit… got the audio book read by Obama. Hearing it in his owm voice was AMAZING!! He actually changed accents and was so mesmerizing. – Brandi
• I enjoyed reading this book. I think it provides great insight into the life of a man who promises to be a significant figure in modern history. – Kerry
• I enjoyed parts of the book but was bored during most of the community service in Chicago part. I think I would have enjoyed Obama’s second book The Audacity of Hope more because it was written with a more political/ideological purpose. I want to know more about him in his own words but this felt neither completely an autobiography nor completely an ideological tome. Both became watered down because of the other. – Danica

I am really proud of us, we had a really civilized conversation that lasted a nice portion of book club. Most of us had read all or a nice chunk of the book and were ready to talk about it. Because we are in this moment in history, I think we read this book at the perfect time and it lent itself really well to a wonderful discussion.

Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley

Another year, another book club anniversary (7th), another picture
: )

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Reading Group Guide

• Powerful. I can see why this is such a classic. Everyone should read this. I especially enjoyed the beginning when Kunte was still happy in Africa. Alex Haley did an excellent job making all want the transoceanic crossing to end! Of course, I would have loved to know what happened to certain people, but I suppose the point was that those people didn’t get to say goodbye. – Marlo
• I am so glad that I read this book. My favorite part was the last chapter. All throughout the book I wondered how he was able to trace his roots back to Africa. Amazing! – Kerry
• Ditto to what Marlo wrote. – Carrie
• I did not like that they dropped story lines. Also, the book could have been cut by half. The whole cock fighting this was just boring. – Sarah
• I didn’t read it : ( – Steph
• This is my favorite book of all time. – Melissa
• I really enjoyed the majority of this book a lot. I could have done without so much detail regarding Chicken George and his story but other than that, I found it fascinating. The end gave me goose bumps once we find out how everything links up and allows him to tell the story of his “Roots”. – Danica

Conclusion: This is the second meeting we have had with the new way of handling talking about the books. It was a wonderful book for a discussion and although Melissa (who led this one) hates doing the questions, it did spark some nice conversation. We didn’t even decorate the tree because we spent more time discussing and exchanging gifts.

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

lolita-blog2 Loved It
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• I loved it. Nothing like a classic! – Sarah
• I didn’t finish, so I can’t say I disliked it with qualification. I felt very uncomfortable reading about a pedophile protagonist and worried deeply about my daughters. – Steph
• I enjoyed this book a lot. I was surprised how the story portrays Lolita not as an aggressor but more of a flippant, flirty child and how the current pop culture reference to Lolita is more of aggressive jail bait. – Danica
• Although I am not done yet, I’m loving it. – Melissa
• Although there were many, many disturbing scenes, and flippantly dropped tidbits, I love Nabokov’s play with language. He manages to portray a cynical, despicable madman. Oh… and Lolita was a brat. – Marlo
• Very interesting. I’m glad I have a better knowledge of the Lolita reference. – Kerry

Conclusion: This was the first meeting where we had the person who brought the book in lead the discussion. I think it worked out really well. Those of us who had read it actually did get into quite a nice discussion about the content, writing style and pop culture references.

Reading Group Guide

October 2008 – What We Didn’t Choose

We decided to continue with regular votes but was interested to see if last month’s vote was an anomaly. After agreeing that the regular vote would be the one we used to determine which book we will be reading, we did a passion vote to compare.

The Feast of Love by Charles Baxter
2 regular votes, 8 passion votes

Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
1 regular votes, 4 passion votes

If I Am Missing or Dead by Janine Latus
2 regular votes, 4 passion votes

Steph brought these in and Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri was chosen as our book for February.

Dictionary of the Khazars by Milorad Pavic

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• Didn’t get into it. – Carrie
• This book is not for everyone. There are no characters to get emotionally attached to and it has to be read like a bunch of short stories. – Sarah
• I read the first of the three sections. There just wasn’t enough of an interest there to keep me wanting to read more. – Danica
• Although I started this with high hopes and good intentions, even trying alternate methods to read through it, I decided I could make better use of my time by reading an encyclopedia or dictionary. – Marlo
• Another one I didn’t read : ( Darn kids! – Steph

Conclusion: Only one member actually made it through the book – while we sometimes have pretty bad statistics, this is really really bad stats!

September 2008 – What We Didn’t Choose

We started a new experiment with voting. We voted with our usual one person, one vote as well as a passion vote where one person has three votes to put in any combination they see fit. Where we expected the two voting schemes to line up, they came back as completely opposite. We ended up having a run off vote on the two books that won the separate votes.

Away by Amy Bloom
2 regular votes, 7 passion votes

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
3 regular votes, 6 passion votes

Tami brought these in and Dreams of My Father by Barack Obama was chosen as our book for January.

Welcome Aaron Michael!

Aaron Michael was born on August 28th at 6:08 pm. He was 7 lbs. 5 oz. and 20 in. long. Mom and baby are doing great. Tami snuck into West Hills after hours, saw him and took this photo. He is absolutely gorgeous and loves his mommy.

This now officially concludes Baby Boom 2008!

Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

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• I first read this in high school and loved it then. Re-reading it has been so much fun. I’m seeing everything with a new perspective. I love the story and creativity behind it. It will always be one of my favorites. – Carrie
• This book was a waste of time, paper and ink. – Sarah
• I couldn’t push through it. Too many unnecessary details. – Melissa
• Ditto. Couldn’t finish it. Got bogged down. – Brandi
• I went into reading this book with very low expectations and the content as a complete fantasy, I think that helped me enjoy it and get more involved with the characters rather than the details. – Danica
• I really, really like this book – only got 1/2 way through. If I finish it, I think I might “Love It”. – Steph
• I am enjoying it but as usual, not done : ( – Tami
• This has been one of my favorites since junior high. The characters are so well described that I feel like I actually know them. I even enjoy the extensive description of the local flora & fauna. Can’t say enough about this one. – Marlo
• I couldn’t get into it. – Kerry

Conclusion: All I can say is that the group was extremely polarized by this book. It seems like you either love it or hate it…

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