Book Club Books

The Girls by Lori Lansens

the_girls1 Loved It
1 Liked It
2 Neutral
1 Disliked It
1 Hated It

• I have no words to convey how much I hated this book. I just don’t care. – Sarah
• Didn’t really like the book (not as strong of a reaction as Sarah). Didn’t enjoy “Ruby’s”writing style. – Stacey
• An easy read. Not very interesting. – Melissa
• It was OK. Nothing spectacular, but I read it. Parts were interesting. – Brandi
• I loved this book! Both characters were interesting albeit due to the “freak” factor. This was a quick read for me since I didn’t want to put it down. – Marlo
• I read it and didn’t hate it but I also didn’t like it either. I did like the way the two personalities were portrayed through the writing but not enough to actually like the book. – Danica

Conclusion: This definitely didn’t go over well although it wasn’t a slam dunk stinker. We didn’t really have a great conversation about it either.

Reading Group Guide

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

51b6YKbnkjL3 Loved It
5 Liked It
Disliked It
Hated It

• I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I really loved hearing the women’s perspective and watching her exploration through the religion. I have already recommended this to many people. – Carrie
• I was initially concerned that it would be SO anti-Muslim, but she presented herself so well. I enjoyed reading about the emotional dilemma between her religious beliefs and her morality regarding the treatment of women. – Brandi
• I was fascinated by Hirsi Ali’s story. Even though I’m not sure I agree with everything she says, she definitely brings up a lot to think about – and discuss. – Kerry
• The first half of this book made me feel very overwhelmed by the realities of the world and religion. The second half made me feel like she had a very specific agenda and included only that which supports it. Past that, on a whole I liked it and have thought a lot about my own cultural experience since finishing it. – danica
• Though I did not finish it, I have enjoyed her story so far. I plan on finishing it this week. – Tami
• Ali’s plight was fascinating. Her journey from being a Muslim girl to an independent, free-thinking woman was inspiring. – Rachelle
• This was an eye-opening experience. Very graphic at times. – Melissa
• It was OK. Some parts were sad. – Sarah

Conclusion: Most really liked the book and we had a very good conversation once everyone settled down. We definitely recommended it to other book clubs.

4 of our members are pregnant, with 2 due in the next month, so we decided to take this picture before the new little members arrive!

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

water-for-elephants3 Loved It
3 Liked It
1 Neutral
Disliked It
Hated It

• Touching story at the end, but the first zoo pages made me want to barf. – Sarah
• I really enjoyed this book. It was at times sad, but I enjoyed the love story. It was the first book I finished in awhile, I am glad this is the one I finished. – Tami
• I loved reading this story! The characters were unique and striking. I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the young man just starting his adult life and the old man, with his wry sense of humor, trying to hold on to himself in the face of an impeding death. – Melissa
• I really enjoyed this book. Such a unique story, looking at circus trains during the depression era. I also loved the first person of the old man, hearing his perspective on late life. – Carrie
• I really enjoyed the book. Nice transitions between the time periods. I thought it was a little rushed at the end. Very good. – Brandi
• It has been awhile since I have really liked a book. This renewed my enthusiasm in reading, I thought I was getting bored with everything. This kept me going. – danica

Conclusion: Everyone attending had finished the book. That says a lot these days! We all seemed to like it.

Reading Group Guide

Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire

9780060747220_p0_v2_s260x420  Loved It
1 Liked It
3 Neutral
Disliked It
Hated It

• Was not as good as Wicked. – Sarah
• I felt that too many loose ends were left flapping in the wind. – Melissa
• I tried, that is about all I can say for myself. I didn’t like Wicked and if this was not a book club book, I would have never even started this it. I made it 140 pages in and was just not motivated to pick it up. -danica
• I liked it better than Wicked, but was not happy with the ending. Too many questions left unanswered. – Carrie
• Didn’t get to read it… – Steph
• Rather blah – Hard not to compare to Wicked and find this one lacking. Much of the storyline remained unfinished without enough substance for another in a series. – Marlo

Conclusion: This was by no means a success. We barely even spoke about it. Most didn’t finish it. We did have a good time though at California Pizza Kitchen and Borders, buying books to donate to The Wonder of Reading.

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

51Og6Di3z8L  Loved It
1 Liked It
2 Neutral
2 Disliked It
Hated It

• The book was too long. The main story was good but all the extra stuff sucked. – Sarah
• I enjoyed it. I could do without the “Blind Assassin” (aliens or whatever), but really liked the main story. – Carrie
• Couldn’t get through it. Tried to muscle through, but just couldn’t bear it. – Brandi
• Yawn. Like it OK, but prefer the “present day” story over the novel within the novel. – Marlo
• I tried and made it to page 300 but I just couldn’t get into it. – danica

Conclusion: Most didn’t read this one and those of us that did, most didn’t like it and didn’t even finish it.

Reading Group Guide

Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

220px-DWCity  Loved It
3 Liked It
2 Neutral
Disliked It
Hated It

• Good book but the first part about the fair was slow – but after that, it was good – loved the contrast between the two plots. – Stacey
• I liked the tidbits about things from the fair. My favorite parts were about the “devil.” – Kerry
• It was OK. The stuff about the fair was way boring. They could have made it a really short book about a murderer. – Sarah
• I definitely got bored in many places. What kept me going was the serial killer parts of the story. I didn’t care as much about the trials and tribulations that went into the architecture of the fair. There were some interesting facts about what debuted and who worked on it though… Overall it was just OK. I made it through so there is that… – danica
• Got a bit long-winded about the fair, but found the part about Holmes interesting… I kept reading it although a few parts dragged. Decent read. – Brandi

Conclusion: Only about half of us actually read this one and it was received as just OK. Our conversation was pretty good and it interested even those that didn’t read the book. It was a jam packed meeting with a lot of personal announcements – almost half of our members are pregnant, throw in an engagement and some charitable giving and that pretty much sums up our March book club.

Reading Group Guide

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

fight-club-book-cover  Loved It
6 Liked It
1 Neutral
3 Disliked It
Hated It

• The author thought much more of this book than I did. – Kerry
• I only got through a few chapters. Too close to the movie (almost verbatim). I probably would have liked it if I hadn’t seen the movie first. – Carrie
• I really loved this movie, but I have not seen it in years however, I remembered more that I thought. I liked the book although I could not help but see how Palahniuk weaved the eventual plot twist throughout. I could not tell whether it was just more explicit in the book or if my knowledge clouded the story. When I saw the movie, I was totally surprised by it – if I read the book first, I don’t know if I would have been as surprised. – danica
• Liked it better than the first time through, but the second time I could see signals earlier in the book. – Stacey
• I thought the book was more predictable than the movie. – Sarah
• It was an easy read. Since I saw the movie, it was hard to read because I knew the ending. It was word for word to the movie. – Tami
• I liked the book because it was different than other books we’ve read. Short chapters, easy read. Also, I liked how it was written from a mentally disturbed person’s point of view. – Rachelle
• I enjoyed it. Saw the movie only days before reading the book, so I head Edward Norton;s voice reading all the lines. “I am Joe’s broken spleen.” – Brandi
• I enjoyed the book. It had been years since I had seen the movie. Such a dark story. Easy read. – Melissa

Conclusion: One thing is for sure, if your copy has a forward, afterword or acknowledgments, do not read them – he comes off as way too much of an egotist and it taints the book.

Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog by by John Grogan

Marley_&_Me_book_cover  Loved It
3 Liked It
3 Neutral
2 Disliked It
Hated It

• This was super cute although at times, I was a little bored. However, at the end, I must admit, I did cry. He has a very conversational style which worked well to tell a series of Marley mishap stories but it just did not read like a novel or a good memoir hence the boredom at times. – danica
• The book did not have so many funny dog stories. The book should have been called “Me, My Wife, Some Kids and Oh, Yeah, We Have a Dog”. – Sarah
• When I remembered that the author is a columnist, it explained why the chapters were so short and choppy. It seemed like he included things about his life because he was writing a book. Sometimes the dog-in-my-life theme was too loosely tied in. I appreciate that he and his family liked their dog, but at the end of the day I didn’t really care. – Kerry
• I could have done without the long descriptions of the breed’s qualities and it dragged out a bit at the end, but as a dog lover and owner of a “bad dog”, I empathized and cried at the end. – Brandi
• I couldn’t get through it. It was just not my thing. – Melissa
• Quick and easy read. Some cute stories. Reminded me of my old dog at times. I would only recommend this to a dog lover, specifically a Labrador lover. – Carrie
• Easy book to get through. Enjoyed most of it, but wanted to read more about the dog. Cried at the end! It’s a good read for animal lovers. – Rachelle
• Really enjoyed the stories about Marley and how he and his wife brought up their family with their dog. Very sad but expected ending. Very easy reading. – Tami

Conclusion: While a fun book for those who have and love dogs, it is definitely not the perfect book club book.

Reading Group Guide

Every Boy’s Got One by Meg Cabot

Because it was our 5th birthday, we decided to have gift exchange again and decorate Steph’s tree. It has been a great year with some new members, fun adventures, great books and wonderful conversation.

n1414161 Loved It
3 Liked It
2 Neutral
3 Disliked It
Hated It

• I thought the book was easy reading. I enjoyed it. It was fun and very predictable. – Tami
• I thought this book was great. It was fun and written differently. Quick easy book. – Sarah
• Quick was about the only thing good about it. Very generic. The “hate-him, hate-him, love-him” bit is tired. I thought the email thing would be more interesting than it was. – Brandi
• This was such fluff! Girl meets boy, girl hates boy, girl hates boy, girl hates boy and then all of a sudden they are in bed, the end. I am not unhappy that I read this one but it definitely did not enrich my life. What is a greater time suck, this or a video game? It would have been either one so I guess it really doesn’t matter in the end. – danica
• I almost hated it. I finished it but it never got better. I didn’t like the characters, the style, the story… it wasn’t fun or light – just ANNOYING. – Steph
• I haven’t finished it yet, but I’ve been entertained so far. Not a book I’d typically read, but a nice change. – Kerry
• A bit too fluffy from a girl who really likes marshmallows! There was some cuteness, but overall I was glad to have finished. The format had potential, but the story lacked depth. – Marlo
• Obviously too unrealistic. Quick read. Couldn’t relate to or enjoy the characters. Outcome is predictable by back cover. Just didn’t really enjoy it. – Carrie
• I liked the writing style. A fun, easy read. – Melissa

Conclusion: If you like the beach read genre, this book was cute although really formulaic.

The Birthday Party and The Room: Two Plays by Harold Pinter

c27120Loved It
Liked It
1 Neutral
5 Disliked It
3 Hated It

• I was kind of confused about what was going on most of the time. Not enough back story. – Sarah
• Wasn’t interested enough to finish it. – Brandi
• I read both (as promised) but didn’t care for it. – Kerry
• I really much prefer fiction to reading plays. I would rather see a play staged than read one. These two plays did not engage me or draw me in. I read them and don’t remember much about them two days later. – danica
• I barely got through the plays… Just read quickly and prayed for an interesting ending. Sadly, I was disappointed. – Rachelle
• It was not my favorite. I read them in two days but was not pleased. – Tami
• If it had taken more than 2 days, I wouldn’t have finished it. I fell asleep reading multiple times and didn’t even bother re-reading. – Carrie
• Although I finished both plays, I couldn’t wait to be done. Had they been any longer, I would have just given up. I didn’t wonder what the heck was going on and never really found out. – Marlo
• I just didn’t get it. – Steph

Conclusion: It is pretty obvious that we didn’t like this one! These plays won awards etc and maybe we just missed some nuances but still that makes them very non-accessible.

Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors

b7c6ac42d12e1aa2b2d9845b9692cfb53 Loved It
6 Liked It
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• Enjoyable read. – Brandi
• Very impressed by the history. The strength of the female characters – not only in the time period, but having been written by a man was also impressive. – Melissa
• I absolutely LOVED this book! I could not comprehend how a man could write a princess so well. This is probably my favorite in a long time. I can’t wait for his next novel. – Carrie
• This book was amazing. I really enjoyed hearing about the love story of the princess. I didn’t want to put it down. – Tami
• I really liked this book! Couldn’t put it down – the characters, setting and story were wonderful – great writing style. I particularly liked the ending. Can’t believe it was written by a man. – Steph
• What a beautiful novel. The relationships between the characters are so touching and relatable. I knew nothing abut the Taj Mahal and it was a great way to learn about it. These are characters that will resonate with me for a long time, and a book I will likely need to read again. – Marlo
• Phenomenal read. Enjoyed the love story. Great character development. Would recommend it to all. – Rachelle
• Was a very good read. Interesting and never a dull moment. Not any better or worse than other books in this genre. – Sarah
• I really enjoyed this book. I didn’t love, love, love it, but I really, really liked it. The characters were very engaging and believable. At points, I felt a lot of relevancy in today’s world situation concerning religion taken to a militant extreme. The story of being torn between loyalty and love kept me reading to find out what finally happens in the end and I was not disappointed. – danica

Conclusion: We all really liked this book a lot. What made it even better was that John Shors, the author had a conference call with us to discuss it. On top of all of that CBS was doing a story on his involvement with book clubs and they decided to send a camera man out to film us talking with John on speakerphone about the book! So we may be on The Early Show or on the CBS Evening News! If this does happen, I will post some stills from that as well. Again, we would all like to thank John for taking the time to indulge our questions and comments, it was a wonderful treat to be able to discuss this book with its creator. We highly recommend Beneath a Marble Sky for book clubs!

Well, the story aired on November 1st on the CBS evening News with Katie Couric and November 2nd on The Early Show. It is up at as streaming video.

And the stills….

Beneath a Marble Sky Web Site
Reading Group Guide

Mama, Are We There Yet? by Rose Saposnek

41m7+1FjgCL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_  Loved It
9 Liked It
Disliked It
Hated It

• This was such an interesting read. I didn’t realize the horror of the Bolshevik Revolution and really felt for the people who had to build a new life in a foreign place. – Marlo
• I really liked this book. I liked the voice – a very unique perspective and the theme I came away with was one of hope and friendship. No matter where they were, people/strangers risked their lives to help them. – Steph
• This book is so interesting. I know so very little about this and it was so unique to hear about it from a child’s point of view. – Kerry
• It was really different than any other book I have read. Very refreshing. – Sarah
• I liked the book and the bit of history it touches on. It’s prompted me to do research on the web. – Stacey
• I liked the book. It was very interesting to hear about the voyage one needed to take to come to America. – Tami
• This was a really quick read. It is amazing how many people of that generation had similar circumstances just different settings. I grew up hearing these stories and completely related. I found it interesting that it was written from the perspective of a child although it sometimes felt a bit bratty but I understand what the author was trying to accomplish. I also found it really interesting that in all the chaos, the main character, a child, was not really told what was happening and that she was never prompted to talk about what she was experiencing. – danica
• The book was very interesting… especially seeing events surrounding the Bolshevik Revolution from a child’s eyes. – Rachelle
• This book was very engaging. Very interesting point of view. Enjoyed the history. – Brandi

Conclusion: We had a really wonderful time meeting with the author, Rose Saposnek. Everyone read and came very well prepared and I think she enjoyed us as much as we enjoyed meeting with her and her daughter. That is Rose, seated in the middle of the bottom row in the pink shirt.

The History of Love: A Novel by Nicole Krauss

Histoflove  Loved It
5 Liked It
4 Neutral
Disliked It
Hated It

• It was OK. Not a very memorable book. Three weeks after I read it, I couldn’t recall the story. – Sarah
• What I read, I liked, but it made me cry and I couldn’t finish it. – Stacey
• I enjoyed it. It wasn’t my favorite book, but I couldn’t put it down. I enjoyed the way she wrote the characters. – Tami
• I liked it – I just got a little confused. – Steph
• I loved the first chapter. I really enjoyed being inside his head. The rest was okay. Nothing special. – Carrie
• I cried through most of it. I enjoyed the way that the different lives and generations intertwined. – Melissa
• The character of the old man was definitely my favorite. I thought his descriptions of his aging body were beautiful and showed such realism. The story itself didn’t engage me too much as I thought several of the loose ends were conveniently tied up. – Marlo
• I enjoyed it, but I hated the ending, I liked all the writing styles for all the characters. – Brandi

Conclusion: Although not an overwhelmingly success, most made it through the book and that is a triumph these days. There were good elements but they did not add up to a good story.

Reading Group Guide

The Birth of Venus: A Novel by Sarah Dunant

Birth_of_venus_bookcover4 Loved It
4 Liked It
Disliked It
Hated It

• I really liked this book. I genuinely cared about the main character. – Steph
• This book had so much drama. I loved it. – Sarah
• Liked the book, but it was hard to get into it. – Stacy
• This was a great read. The premise took me absolutely by surprise, but I liked the conflict. I would have liked more development of the romantic relationship. The tattoo was very intriguing and I love anything set in the Renaissance Period. – Marlo
• The historical aspect that was woven through the story – or, rather, the story was woven through the history – was refreshing. The growth of the main character was a driving force. – Mellissa
• I really liked the book. There were times when it slowed down, but once I got into it, I never put it down. – Tami
• I enjoyed the book and especially the development of the main character. It was interesting to watch her growth and understanding through the years. – Carrie
• The prologue hooked me right away and I wanted to see where it was going and how it was going to end up encompassing what was revealed. – danica

Conclusion: I think this was a hit! Everyone read it and most really really liked it.

Reading Group Guide

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

11037 Loved It
3 Liked It
Disliked It
Hated It

• A fast read – completely engaging with a great story and characters. I’ve recommended it to lots of friends. – Steph
• I enjoyed reading this book. I’ve read so many in this time/place, but learn something every time! – Kerry
• Well written and I loved the way the author painted a picture of the event/story. – Stacy
• Beautiful and touching story. Although on the surface a story of friendship, I really felt it was a love story. – Marlo
• I really enjoyed this book. I loved seeing this culture from the women’s perspective. – Carrie
• Very good read. Loved how it told the history though the characters. -Brandi
• Excellent book… Foot binding fascinated me. Also, the development of characters was thoroughly interestingly. – Rachelle
• This book was so good and interesting! I loved it. Such an easy read. – Tami
• Fun read. This story is more unique than other stories of this genre. – Sarah

Conclusion: Everyone read it, most finished it, everyone really liked it. This is a definite recommendation to other book clubs!

Reading Group Guide

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

jungle-upton-sinclair-paperback-cover-art3 Loved It
2 Liked It
1 Neutral
Disliked It
Hated It

• It was a really good book, but I would not recommend the extended version. It got a little too political with a rant about Socialism. – Sarah
• I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. Except for the end, too political. I couldn’t put it down. – Carrie
• This wasn’t quite the non-stop meat packing horror I expected. It seemed more focused on the plight of the immagrant families and the lack of support in society. Although I liked the storyline of the main character involved in politics, the Socialist commentary at the end was too contrived. – Marlo
• I thought this book was increadibly insightful and still relevant. – Steph
• I thought this book was a really important read – a real look into the life back then. Makes me glad to be a vegetarian – Brandi

Conclusion: We sure had a chatty book club and didn’t even get down to business until 9PM. I think we all miss each other and the time was well spent even though we weren’t discussing the book as much. We did get down to it at the end and we all had similar feelings as demonstrated in the comments.

Reading Group Guide

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