Book Club Books

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.

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

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

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

Comments:
• This was my second time through this book. While I feel like I gained a greater appreciation for Holden’s positions & understanding of Salinger’s background – it is not a book for me. – Chelsea
• Along with another book that I read immediately before this one, I felt I was inundated by petulant boy energy running through both stories. I was not a happy person during those weeks. – Danica
• I have read this before – two times – as a teenager, myself. At the time, I found it revolutionary. This time, I was not a fan. I was frustrated with many aspects of the book: writing style, the narrator’s unapologetic privilege and sexism, and pace of the book. The one redeemable quality was the back story of Holden losing his brother, Allie, and the impact of this loss on the Caufield family. – Hillary
• I did not enjoy reading this book. I disliked it in high school, but I wanted to re-read it with adult eyes. I felt like I had to hang out with a negative person I would never want to be around. There was a glimmer of humanity toward the end, but other than that – nope. – Kerry
• I found the prose annoying and repetitive. I see how it would appeal to a teenage boy but I just did not connect. – Sarah

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

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

Comments:
• I really enjoyed this book. It reminded me of a series of books I read when I was a kid. It was struck by the issues brought up in the times and how progressive it was. – Kerry
• I loved the world building and journeys of the characters. There were points where I felt it could have been set during many periods in history and then others where it was of a very distinct period. The themes were really meaningful. – Danica
• OMG – I wish I had enough time to read this whole book. I really enjoyed the first 30%! The writing style was easy to read but sophisticated and it took me back in the past. The characters were so well developed. – Steph
• Although it was slow at times, some of the imagery & descriptive language was so lovely. I enjoyed being immersed in that world. Happy I finally read this. – Chelsea
• I really enjoyed listening to this book – couldn’t “put it down.” I appreciated the writing style and the way the author narrated all characters’ thoughts and inner lives. I identified with Francie! – Hillary
• I really enjoyed reading this book. The people were really well developed and very interesting. I became really interested in the characters, especially Francie. – Carrie

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

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

Comments:
• I feel like I missed a lot of the elements in this book. I was very involved in JoJo and Kayla’s relationship and journey but feel like I didn’t pick up other connections. – Danica
• I couldn’t really get into this book. Didn’t really like the characters. Didn’t see a story to it. Then when Ritchie showed up, I was done. Finished it hoping there would be something interesting. There wasn’t. – Carrie
• The writing was beautifully descriptive. I really enjoyed the story, even though it veered too much in the surrealism for my personal taste. – Kerry
• I have been reading a lot more writing from the Mississippi Delta and there is a primal nature to it. So much pain and dysfunction; there were moments where it was bleak but the descriptive language was beautiful. I thought that the mythic energy and her use of karmic destiny was very interesting. – Chelsea
• I was moved by the writing. The character JoJo really spoke to me. I found my interest in the book wavering more than expected, but was motivated to finish. – Hillary
• For me, this book was not what I expected. I kept reading expecting the story to move to a better place, but never got there. It was very descriptive, in some instances too descriptive. All that said, I thought it was written very well. – Robyn
• I thought the book was very well written and I cared about the characters. I really liked the supernatural element that reminded me of Isabel Allende in the “regularness” of the supernatural. Very depressing, though. – Steph
• I did not think I would like this book but was pleasantly surprised. Most of it was enjoyable but the end kind of lost me. – Sarah

A Separation by Katie Kitamura

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

Comments:
• It was short and written in an interesting way. I would not typically like a book like this, but was pleasantly surprised. – Sarah
• Granted, I finished it quite awhile ago. I thought it was an interesting concept and enjoyed certain language but the narrator felt removed. – Chelsea
• It was a book I read through quickly because I wanted to see what would happen. However, the book didn’t strike me as a favorite or stand out in any particular way. Still, I like the writing and found it had a real human dimension to the narrative. Very reflective narrator. – Hillary
• More food for thought then action. It wasn’t a book that really spoke to me, but I think a good book for discussion. – Kerry
• It was short and a quick read. Couldn’t connect to any of the characters and felt let down overall. – Carrie
• The moral dilemmas were interesting but beside an insight into the main character’s inner dialogue, nothing really happens. – Danica

December’s Book Club & America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

16 years!!! As has been the tradition, we had our annual holiday/birthday party plus a book club discussion, complete with gift exchange and our annual photo. Thanks ladies for making it another great year!

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

Comments:
• I couldn’t get into this particular book. I tried on a couple of occasions but just didn’t find a connection with the narrator’s voice. I stayed in the childhood section of the book and didn’t move beyond. – Hillary
• The beginning was slow for me; but once they moved to Europe, I feel that I got really engrossed. – Chelsea
• The further I got into this book, the sadder I felt. – Kerry
• I was completely pulled into this story and found the power structure fascinating and horrifying. – Steph
• I really enjoyed this read. Loved getting into the characters and enjoyed the historical references. – Carrie
• I loved the history and actually looked up a bunch of references while I was reading, but I was shocked by the familial violence. It was not the picture I think of when I think of the families of our founding fathers. – Danica

Moonglow by Michael Chabon

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

Comments:
• I love Chabon’s writing style and it was true to form in this book. I did have a hard time with the story because I am a little over saturated with WWII lit right now. The jumping around in character, time, and place had me a little lost as well. – Danica
• One of the things I like about Chabon’s books is the unique story settings and plot lines. I enjoyed this story, even though it took awhile to get through. – Kerry
• I love a good family saga, so this was a real treat in that way. I enjoyed Chabon’s voice as a narrator. The grandfather intrigued me. So much of this family’s story was shrouded in mystery and secrecy. I found the timeline confusing because of how it jumped around. – Hillary

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