Book Club Books

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

Emma by Jane Austen

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

Comments:
• I had read it before, but was glad I got to refresh; I enjoyed it more this time. – Chelsea
• I’ve always wanted to read this and never got to it. Really enjoyed the book. – Carrie
• I could imagine Emma being a progressive, forward thinking woman of her time, and so I especially appreciated her early on in the book. Later,  I enjoyed more of the comical and ironic elements of the book. Highly enjoyed it – especially the way it was written. – Hillary
• This was the first Austen book I had read and really loved it. Coming back many years later and after reading the rest of Austen, I realized this is not one of my favorites. – Sarah
• I couldn’t get into this book. There were cute and Shakespearian parts/situations that I enjoyed but I had trouble connection with the characters and had little patience for Emma. – Steph
• I somehow never read this but the Gwyneth Paltrow movie version is one of my favorites from my teenage years. I was happy to have finally read this and liked the style of writing and pluckiness of Emma. On the other hand, the wealth, leisure, and social station commentary was very interesting but also somewhat off-putting in its frivolity. – Danica

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

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

Comments:
• I really enjoyed lots of parts of it; his writing, descriptions. The beginning chapters were riveting, I enjoyed the middle, but didn’t care for the end. The biggest missing part for me was convincing me that he was actually a communist sympathizer. – Kerry
• It was hard for me to get into it at first, because it is written as dialogue so the structure disarmed me. But, I enjoyed parts of it and really didn’t enjoy others. Overall, I am glad I read it and I thought the writing was compelling. – Chelsea
• The book was poorly written and I really didn’t enjoy the story. There were many parts of the book (everything with the movie) which just was not needed and seemed like it was used to add pages. There were also parts that used ideas from other books but not used well. – Sarah
• I thought the writing style was great. His observations and insights were brilliant. I enjoyed it throughly – even though the subject matter was difficult. – Steph
• The book is vivid and offers a complex, unique perspective. Outrageous and dramatic in parts, but also contrasted with moments capturing the simplicity of life. Relevant to current refugee issues and adjustments to the new world. – Hillary
• There were so many disjointed parts of this book, some I was very engaged in and some I drifted in and out of interest. The layers of motivations were hard to parse but in the end it revealed an interesting perspective and left me thinking about it for awhile after I finished it. – Danica

The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

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

Comments:
• This book is so full of information, I feel like my head is spinning. Really provocative in how I think about my own food and consumption choices. – Chelsea
• I really enjoyed the thinking that I have done since finishing this book. I learned a lot in each of the meals but by far the one that has stuck with me is the grass section. Specifically how evolutionarily, the plants and animals are all designed to support their individual needs as long as you work at maintaining their delicate balances. I see this on a micro level in my own edible garden but never considered this in animal food production. I have never lived on a farm or outside of a city, like most of our country, so it is not something we think about on the regular. – Danica
• I learned so much and it was well written. I liked the way he examined food from so many perspectives and it is quite scary how money and profit dictate what we eat. All that and I only got to 42%! I do plan on finishing. – Steph
• Great read to keep you thinking about what we consume. The part that stuck with me the most was  that we need a journalist to find out where our food is from! – Kerry
• I enjoyed this book much more that I thought I would. I thought the author would try to forward a certain agenda but was happy to see that it was mostly a look at food systems without making judgement calls. – Sarah

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

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

Comments:
• Don’t waste your time. Just read The Tempest directly. – Sarah
• It was great, not perfect, but I enjoyed it. I love theater, so the play within a play element was great for me. I loved the concept more than the execution. – Chelsea
• There were parts were I was super engaged, especially in the beginning but by the time the whole plot was coming to an apex, I just didn’t care anymore. I like the concept of this series, this one was just a little too obvious and beating you over the head with The Tempest story. – Danica

Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy by Jacqueline Kennedy

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

Comments:
• It was an interesting look at that time of history from a very specific point of view. – Sarah
• I understand why the structure was how it was, but it didn’t have great flow. Glad of certain stories, but didn’t need some of them. – Chelsea
• I have always been fascinated by Jackie. I was very engaged and interested in the conversations about the events and people that I had previously known and had context, others where I had no reference, I wasn’t. I wish there was more about her feelings and events in her life, not just her trying to remember bits about Jack. It really shined a light on women’s roles and how they have changed since the 60’s. -Danica

The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan

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

Comments:
• This book was a window into a different world. It was a devastating story but I’m glad I read it. – Steph
• I enjoyed this book for the things it made me contemplate although it was hard emotionally to go back to it daily. – Danica
• I was slow to set into it, but I really am glad that I waited it out and got to see how it ended. Ot ultimately left me sad at the outcome and how inevitable the tragedy of life seems. – Chelsea
• It was a difficult book to read at the beginning because of the subject matter. – Sarah
• It was an interesting view into how terrorism affects a non-western culture. Interesting to watch the evolution of a “terrorist.” – Carrie

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