Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Discussion Summaries’ Category

Erica

Erica Bauermeister, author

On Monday, December 2nd, the Booked for the Day Book Group met to discuss the book, Joy for Beginners by Erica Caldwell.

Having survived a life-threatening illness, Kate celebrates by gathering with six close friends. At an intimate outdoor dinner, the women challenge Kate to start her new lease on life by going white-water rafting down the Grand Canyon with her daughter. But Kate is reluctant to take the risk. That is, until her friend Marion proposes a pact: if Kate will face the rapids, each woman will do one thing in the next year that scares her. Kate agrees, with one provision – she didn’t get to choose her challenge, so she gets to choose theirs. Here are a few things we discussed during the meeting:

The group thought that the read was enjoyable but some felt it was more of a beach read. Two of the members thought the book was emotional and they had a few tears, especially with Ava and Kate’s story.

We thought that in this book each woman confronted their fears. They faced what they were most afraid of and they did what was needed in order to move on in their lives.

In Caroline’s story we were confused with how things were left and unsure if she blamed herself for her husband’s leaving.

With Daria, again we were unsure if her relationship with her mother was settled in a positive way. We were also unclear as to why her mother had to give up painting because Daria was born.

With Sara, her dedication to her children did not weaken her marriage, but for Kate and Caroline in was the complete opposite. We were glad that Kate’s husband was supportive of her taking a trip on her own but we all thought it would have been nicer if she could have gone with someone. Someone to share the experience with. Plus, most of us decided that we would not go to a country where we did not know the language by ourselves.

We talked about the challenge that Robin gave Kate and most of us thought it was unfair of Robin to ask Kate to do something that frightened her. We realized that Robin wanted “to be scared by something she could put her hands on.” But if she really wanted Kate to truly feel alive, there may have been better choices. None of us thought we would jump off a cliff or go skinny dipping. That just did not seem realistic for Kate’s situation.

We would have liked more information on each character with a better follow through on what course their lives took. We also thought that some of the events were too coincidental. For example, Daria had to bake bread and Sara’s brother happened to be a baker. Ava’s tent partner Elaine just happened to have a handsome son who smelled like blackberries.

The group decided that they would recommend this book for a beach read but it was not something that they would buy for their shelves. These are just a few things mentioned during the discussion. Please feel free to add any of your thoughts in the comment section.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

NGL_26PEARLHEIST_28497414On Monday, December 2th, the Booked for the Day Book Group met to discuss the book, The Great Pearl Heist: London’s greatest thief and Scotland Yard’s hunt for the world’s most valuable necklaceby Molly Caldwell Crosby. Here are a few things we discussed during the meeting:

The Great Pearl Heist is a non-fiction book that covers the theft and hunt for the world’s most valuable necklace in 1913 London. Though it is a true story, the book reads like a thriller and kept most of us captivated till the end. We appreciated the well-researched book that included some personal information about the characters involved.

We all loved getting to know the two main characters of the story – the thief, Joseph Grizzard, the “greatest receiver, fence, and putter-up of his time” and Scotland Yard’s “real life Moriarty,” and the detective, Alfred Ward, chief inspector of Scotland Yard, leader of a team of detectives who employed disguises, undercover operations and stings, which we learned were a new type of police work that began during that time period.

The book gave as much detailed descriptions of the famous crime as was possible, since Grizzard and his crew were never put on the witness stand and never told how the crime was committed to anyone.  Even though the trial in Old Bailey was interesting, we thought that it would have been a lot more exciting if the Grizzard gang had testified.

When I asked the group who they were rooting for, they all agreed that they were rooting for Grizzard and thought he was quite a character. He seemed cool and collected when approached by the police, and nothing seemed to get him upset. We talked about the fact that these thieves did not seem to be violent, and that no one was hurt, and that Grizzard was respected by his gang and the underground community because he took care of the people who worked for him.

We had a copy of The Great Pearl Robbery of 1913 by Christmas Humphreys which was published in 1929 and provided more information regarding the heist. It also had more pictures of all the main characters, which were interesting for us to see.

The group talked about pearls and how they were rare until they discovered how to cultivate them. In Christmas Humphrey’s book he tells us that it took 10 years to collect the perfect size and color pearls for the necklace, which helped our understanding as to why the necklace was so valuable.

We also talked about Lockett who was another cool character. We all wondered what was hidden in his home that someone was willing to pay top dollar for it.

Our only critique was that it could have had a little more drama if Crosby had written it from the perspective of one of the characters instead of like a reporter, which would also have provided more of an emotional aspect.  We all liked the epilogue and how they told you what happened to all the character in the story.

In this story where Grizzard and Ward become friends, we were happy that both characters were heroes.  The group decided that they would recommend this book. These are just a few things mentioned during the discussion. Please feel free to add any of your thoughts in the comment section.

Read Full Post »

sweet toothOn Monday, November 4th, the Booked for the Day Book Group met to discuss the book Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan. Here are a few of the comments made during the meeting:

Only one person in the group loved the book. All the other members thought that it was hard to get through and even though they liked the last chapter, they did not think that it was worth reading the entire book to get to.

No one thought that this was truly a spy novel. There was nothing life-threatening or dangerous about the book even though the element of surprise and the fear of the unexpected are both there for the reader.

The majority of the group did not like reading the three short stories that were embedded in the novel. They thought it was confusing and did not add to the storyline.

We talked about the differences between MI5 and MI6.

None of the group thought they would have liked the story better if it had less romance and more intrigue.

The group thought that the men in Serena’s life were poorly portrayed. Jeremy deceiving Serena in regards to his sexuality, Tony as an older man trying to form Serena’s believes, and Max who lead Serena on by not telling her that he was engaged. One member thought that could have been because she felt that Tom was telling the story and not Serena. If she was telling the story they may have come across differently.

Also no one thought that Serena was a likeable character. Again one member thought that may have been because Tom was telling the story and that he was feeling betrayed and hurt by Serena and may have been looking for a bit of revenge in describing her.

We were all disappointed in Tony’s ending. The blood on the mattress had us all wondering what really happened to him and then to find out he just had a bloody nose was anti-climactic. But again it could have been Max’s story that was changed as a cover-up to what really happened.

We talked about whether Serena ended up with Tom in the end. One member thought that she did end up with Tom otherwise the novel would have been destroyed and never published.

All of the group thought that Max would do something to destroy Serena and Tom’s relationship.

We talked about Shirley and most of us liked her but was unsure of why she was fired and if Serena ended up working for her.

One member wondered if perhaps this was a true story. The group thought it could have been but for several reasons it could not have been published as such.

We also hoped that Serena’s father was passed away when this book was published because it made it appear that Serena slept with everyone she came across. But again this could have been because of who was really telling the story.

We also talked about the fact that the film rights to this book was sold so it could possibly be made into a movie. Some of us thought that it will have to be re-written but would be willing to see it if it came out as a film.

We ended the meeting with high hopes for our next book. These are just of few things mentioned during the discussion. Please feel free to add any of your thoughts in the comment section.

Read Full Post »

Mark-Twain2On Monday, October 7th, the Booked for the Day Book Group met to discuss the book Pudd’nhead Wilson by Mark Twain. Here are a few of the comments made during the meeting:

Everyone in the group thought the dialect was difficult to understand. Most of us had to re-read the passages several times.

In our discussion today we talked about “Nature versus Nurture” and most of us thought that Tom’s (Chambers) overindulgent upbringing was responsible for his flaws and failures. He definitely had a sense of entitlement that was fostered in him by his Father, Aunt and Uncle. In addition, Roxy’s favoritism toward Tom over Chambers did not help him to become a better man.

We talked about the role of Roxy in the switching of the babies and the fact that there were no repercussions for her. She essentially destroyed Chamber’s (Tom) life and yet he still was willing to give her a monthly allowance. We talked about how some children are still devoted to their parents no matter what they did.

There was a lot of discussion about the fact that Tom (Chambers) got away with murder. Since he was considered property, the murder charge was waived and he was sold down river. This was in the year 1853, the Civil War was from 1861-65 so Tom was a slave for possibly 8-12 years and then he probably was set free.

We talked about the difference between a slave in the town and being sold down river.

We laughed at Roxy’s comment to Tom, “what would your father think?” since Tom’s father never acknowledged him while he was alive, what made Roxy think Tom would care what he thought.

Some of us thought that Tom and Chambers had the same father and that is why Roxy was able to switch them so easily. We were all surprised when we learned he was not the father.

Another theme of the book is a very early look at the use of forensic evidence in detective work. In 1830, the time period of the book, fingerprinting was a completely foreign concept. But in 1890 when the book was written, Dr. Henry Faulds had just published an article in the Scientific Journal, “Nature” and was credited with the first finger print identification of a greasy finger print left on an alcohol bottle.

The comment was made about Percy Driscoll, that he is humane towards “slaves and other animals” which really brought home the darker side of our American history.

One of our members asked if we thought that a book like this could be written in this day and age. No one thought it would, even though the language used in the story was the language of the day.

We talked about Wilson’s comment on owning half the dog which seemed odd until you read Twain’s original short story, Those Extraordinary Twins.

We read some of our favorite calendar quotes.

Nobody thought that they would recommend this particular Mark Twain book.

These are just of few things mentioned during the discussion. Please feel free to add any of your thoughts in the comment section.

Read Full Post »

isabel-wilkersonOn Monday, September 2nd, the Booked for the Day Book Group met to discuss the book The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. Here are a few of the comments made during the meeting:

The group thought that the book did not read like a history book because of the personal stories that were told.  We also talked about the research she had to do and the years it took her to complete the work.

We liked how the personal stories covered three different decades with three different areas of the country and how Wilkerson did not sugar coat the stories of Robert and George when telling their life stories. One thing that was confusing in the book was how she would repeat the same story in different chapters which made you unsure if you had already read that chapter before. Some of our members thought she could have used a better editor.

We talked about what motivated Ida Mae Gladney, George Starling, and Robert Foster to leave the South and the dangerous journey that all three had to make.

We talked about some of the Jim Crow laws that we were not aware of and what instances of racial terrorism stood out most in the book?

We talked about how some of the migrants did not tell their stories to their children and the reasons this may have happened. We also talked about how the characters did not return to the south for fear of safety, financial reasons, or just for the fact that they did not want to be reminded of what happened to them in the south.

We all decided that Ida Mae Gladney was our favorite character in the book and she was the one we were more anxious to hear more about.

Some of the misconceptions that Wilkerson dispelled were that the education in the north was better than the south, the rents they had to pay in the Chicago area, and the fact that there were more single parent households in the north than in the south.

We also talked about the demonstrations in Cicero and one of our member’s mother remembered when it took place and relayed some of the story.

These are just of few things mentioned during the discussion. Please feel free to add any of your thoughts in the comment section.

Read Full Post »

100-year-old-manOn Monday, August 5th, the Booked for the Day Book Group met to discuss the book The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. Here are a few of the comments made during the meeting:

  • The majority of the group did not enjoy the book. No one had one of those laugh out loud moments so there were few parts that stood out to anyone. One member thought that maybe it did not translate well from Swedish to English.
  • No one thought that they would recommend the book to anyone and we were unable to determine if it was an adventure story, a crime story, a love story, or just a fantasy.
  • We thought that the title was cute and the cover was adorable so it did catch our attention at first but once we started to read, we thought the story was ridiculous.
  • We all had parts where we were confused because of the switching from the present to the past.
  • Revisiting historical figures was a nice history review for some of us but the story lines were so unbelievable. We understood why the author decided he wanted Karl to be 100 because he wanted to cover the most significant historical events of the last century.
  • The story is touted as a Forrest Gump tale but Forrest Gump had showed feelings, at one point in the movie he was in love. With Karl you did not get any of those human emotions that Forrest Gump had. Karl showed no interest in love and sex.
  • We were also confused with the fact that they indicated that he was sterilized; giving us the impression that he was castrated yet at the end he and Amanda were together.
  • It seemed that Karl was a trustworthy guy but we thought maybe he was just amusing his friends by making up stories and none of the stories from his past were true.
  • We ended the meeting with high hopes for our next book. These are just of few things mentioned during the discussion. Please feel free to add any of your thoughts in the comment section.

Read Full Post »

lutzLisa_haywardDavid

On Monday, July 1st, the Booked for the Day Book Group met to discuss the book Heads You Lose  by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward. Here are a few of the comments made during the meeting:

The group thought that the interplay between Lutz and Hayward is what took Heads You Lose from enjoyable to comical.

We all agreed that the novel, by itself, would have been disastrous as a mystery story. There were too many lose ends and unexplained characters for the story to stand on its own.

The book was a fast read mainly because we wanted to get through the chapters as fast as possible so we could get to the notes and footnotes at the end of the chapters.

Some of our favorite “Notes” that appeared in between the chapters were:

  • P.S. About your stable of would-be collaborators, I don’t doubt that all of those authors are adept at building and resolving intricate mysteries. But I’d argue that bringing a psycho to justice on the page and co-writing a book with one require different skill sets.
  • It’s kind of funny that you remember our relationship as consisting entirely of drinking and talking. I remember it as drinking and listening.

After Hayward was criticized by Lutz for using words that she had to Google, one of Hayward’s chapters is written in large, double spaced text with a very Dick and Jane style which we all enjoyed.  The group did not think that it advanced the mystery, but it helped to build the tension between the co-authors.

Paul and Lacey, much like Lisa and David, work against each other as much as they work with each other. The way each author counters the other is what we thought made the story interesting and unexpected. For example:

  • Lisa gives Paul a stripper girlfriend who limps after experiencing a pole-dancing accident. David retaliates by making the stripper have a genius IQ.
  • Another favorite moment was when David introduces Terry, his favorite character. Lisa kills him off, then David revives him at the hospital and then Lisa kills him again and makes sure that there is no possible way he can come back to life.  She even threatens to put him through a woodchipper if David tries. David tries to fight back by introducing Terry’s cousin Harry who is very similar to Terry but Lisa quickly kills him off too.

We talked about their twitter accounts and it does appear that they are friends because of the back and forth banter on their accounts (Hayward’s twitter account states “Author of the good parts of the novel Heads You Lose”).  They also did a book tour together where they took turns blogging about the day’s events. It was very similar to the “Notes” between the chapters where they took every chance they could to blast the other one.  David Hayward is a poet, so on Lisa Lutz’s website she has a link to “Lisa’s Poetry Corner.” When you link to the page it states, “This page intentionally left blank,” which we thought was still one more dig at David Hayward. The group thought that they still had a friendship but they seemed more like siblings than anything.

After reading this book most of the members thought that they would give Lisa Lutz’s Spellman Files Series a try, which is similar to Janet Evanovich “Stephanie Plum” series.

These are just of few things mentioned during the discussion. Please feel free to add any of your thoughts in the comment section.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »