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Me Before You by Jojo Moyes – Bookies Review

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This past Tuesday the Bookies gathered to discuss Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.  This is a book that will be hard to discuss here without spoilers so I will keep this light.  To see a review with more detail and a spoiler page, see my review of Me Before You here, and for another great review by our Queen (front and center in picture), see it at her blog By Book Or by Crook.

A brief synopsis of Me Before You: (Setting – London village)  Louisa Clark has recently lost her day job and at 27, still living at home but trying to get moving on life – this is not cool.  She applies for a temporary position at a nearby castle for a rich boy who is not wheelchair bound due to an accident.  Extremely unqualified, Louisa is shocked when she is given the job.  Will Trainer (ie. “Rich boy”) is a bitter 30 something.  He once had the world at his finger tips; skiing with friends, trips to beaches and around the world… now confined to the limitations of movement and a chair.

Louisa (probably due to her lack of professional training for this type of work) will have none of Will’s attitude.  At first she is careful and shy but soon finds she is dealing with a sort of spoiled whiny baby who’s toys have been taken away.  By Louisa calling Will out on this, Will develops a respect for Louisa and a friendship slowly grows.

Louisa soon discovers why her job taking care of Will is temporary and this knowledge changes everything.  Now Louisa’s drive is to show Will that this new world of wheelchairs and limited movements is worth living in – and she only has so much time to convince him.

 

The Bookies rated this one fairly high.  We seen “5″ ratings out of people who rarely if ever give 5′s.  (We rate on a scale of 1 – 5, 5 being the best).  A book such as this brought out (as I had hoped) some deep discussion.  We discussed choices and when do family and friends have a right to step in, and if they do – how much is permissible… how much is too much.

We were surprised to learn that we have a girl in our group who has a relative that has a similar story of living a full vibrant life and then an accident causing her to become a quadriplegic.  To actually hear about someone who has gone through this was interesting and brought the book even more fully in focus.

Of course… we had food and wine with our discussion :)

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Why is this a great book for book clubs? 

There is great discussion points within this book.  Hard questions come to the surface that will make for a lively and passionate discussion on both sides.  If you like books that can get a rise of emotion out of your group let me say this is a book that will do just that. 

What Makes a Good Book – Book Discussion Worthy?

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Books.  There are great books out there.  As readers, we are quite familiar with these books.  Perhaps they are beautifully written and each word creates a full picture in your mind of the scene, the scents, the heat (or lack there of) in a room.  They can create great emotions – from joy to pain; laughter to anger.  (Come on, admit it – haven’t you ever thrown a book down on a table or across a room because of the emotion it evoked?  No?  Just me?  Well… this is awkward…. :razz: )

My question I present today is what types of books lead to great book discussions?  Not all great reads make for great discussion.  I know personally from my own book club experiences, some are really hard to group review other than just opening the room up to discussion.  No hot topic questions come to mind… no great emotion.  The book may be perfectly fine, there’s just really not much to say.  :shock:

I love books that stretch us.  That make us think differently.  They cause a difference in opinions within the group – love or hate the protagonist; lets talk about it.  Hot topics of today and/or in the past… lets discuss. 

SO I toss this question out to you.  Many of us are in book clubs or book discussion groups. 

When choosing a book that you think would be great to bring to the group to read, what do you look for within that book? 

Do you look for something in the synopsis that you think will work great for a group discussion, or is that not a part of it? 

When you select a book for a reading discussion have you already read it? 

 

I am excited to hear what your group does. :)

Bookies Review: Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

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In past years I posted my book club book review along with my book club thoughts in one post.  Starting this year I will be posting my personal review of the book club books and my book clubs thoughts separately.  Click here for my review of Reconstructing Amelia.

This past Tuesday the Bookies Book Club gathered to review our January book, Reconstructing Amelia.  As anticipated, the book made for a wonderful discussion.

Reconstructing Amelia is about a 15-year-old girl who joins a coveted undercover group at her Private School called the Maggie’s.  If you are tapped to be a Maggie, you do not say no.  The book centers around coming of age issues such as; parent/child relationships, trust, friendships, sexuality, fitting in, bullying, social media and oddly… adults in high position roles who act in the most inappropriate ways.  When Amelia dies early on in the book (not a spoiler, this is part of the books synopsis on the back cover), her mother is left to figure out the pieces as to what happened.  Through a series of emails, texts, and Facebook posts, things start to come together to a shocking conclusion.

Reconstructing Amelia is a tangled weave of dishonesty and rabbit trails that cause you to think things one way… only to wonder (even in the end) if it was not something completely different.  This sort of writing can be both exciting and frustrating as our book club discussed. 

What discussion topics can Book Clubs pull from this read?

There is so much that makes for good group discussion here. 

  1. Peer pressure…. how hard is it at 15 to say no?  How important at this age is it to fit in?
  2. Social media… how much worse can social media make it for teens?  Now when friends disagree it can be posted for everyone’s eyes. 
  3. In a world where we know everyone’s business… how much is too much?  Where do we as parents draw the line when it comes to internet, social media, texting, emails, dating….
  4. Bullying is such a  huge topic right now.  How can we protect our children – especially when they are at the age where they do not necessarily come to us with problems.
  5. Single parenting is common.  How does a single parent juggle maintaining a job, a home, the bills, and relationships with their children?
  6. What about these clubs in schools like college?  The ones that include hazing.  Is it a right of passage?  Is there reason for concern?
  7. How important is it to keep communication with your teen child?  Do you have a limit to what you want to know?  If you do not, do you give off the impression that you do?

 

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Top left: As the center pic sign says, Amelia’s favorite food was Hibachi and that was what I tried my hand at. It was good – lots of seasoned chicken and fresh vegies as well as home-made hibachi sauce.
Center row: left is a spinach bacon salad and far right is an assortment of wines that we called Maggie hazing potions… you must drink!
Bottom: center is a pea and cheese salad and far right in a New York Cheese cake as the book is set in New York.

 

The Bookies had a vibrant discussion over these topics, occasionally even talking over one another.  Many of us had stories of our own kids being bullied.  Social media is another fire conversation.  For a group of women who grew up for the most part without Facebook and cell phones and instant pictures; we are concerned as to the “where does it go from here.”  So little is considered taboo now, what does the next generation have going on?

Reconstructing Amelia scored well with the Bookies overall.  On a scale of 1 -5 (5 the best), Amelia landed at a solid 4 rating out of the 17 of us who rated the book.  Over all the bookies found the book to be hard to put down, it kept you guessing as to what actually happened all the way to the end. 

Book clubs looking for a fairly quick read (the pages of texting and Facebook posts make for some quick chapters) with great discussion topics are encouraged to choose this book.  Reconstructing Amelia will leave you with some questions, and either intentional by the author or not, most of the Bookies were not bothered by this unknowing. 

Book Club People – How Do You Choose Your Books?

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Recently I was reading an awesome post of Elizabeth’s at Silvers Reviews and she was talking about book club books.  She was saying that her book club puts book choices for a year in to a bowl and each month they draw out of the bowl and choose their next read.  She said this kept people from becoming hurt if their book was not chosen as everyone has a title in the bowl.

For us (The Bookies!)  We have had a tried and true system that I really enjoy since we began in 2001. We encourage each person to bring a book suggestions with them to the group.  When it is time to pick we go around and everyone who brought a suggestion gets a chance to give a little description of the book.  We ask that it follows this criteria:

  1. It should be a newer release (unless it is classic month) as there are 18 of us and we have to find copies

  2. It can be paperback or hard cover as long as it is under $15

  3. If you can share where to find it and at what cost that is a plus (such as “the library has 4 copies in book and also an audio version” or “Target currently has this one for $8.99 and there are about 12 copies available.”

 

When the nominees are in we go around the room and we each have two votes.  The two votes stems back to when we were a very small group and we didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings; the two vote thing sticks to this day. :)

The book with the most votes is what we read for the next month.  In the event of a tie, the decision goes to the Queen (oh and that is another post entirely….hee hee)

I like our system as we are not eliminating the possibility of choosing a book that just came out or to our attention.

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If you are in a book club or reading group, how do you choose what you will be reading?  It seems like every one I talk to has a different way of doing it and I am fascinated by all the ideas out there. 

Please share here how your book club picks its books :D

Devastation On The Delaware by Mary A. Shafer

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Delaware in 1955 was experiencing a drought like no other.  Crops were crispy dry, and farmers feared an entire loss for the harvest season.  When hurricane Connie and Diane were in the area farmers had hope that the rains they would bring would save the crops.  And at first… that’s what seemed to be happening.

Then on August 18th the rain storm took a turn for the worse.  The two hurricanes brought down record rainfall over the next three days, causing some parts of the river to raise 30 feet within 15 minutes.  Homes were torn from their foundations, vehicles overturned, resorts were washed away and 400 children were to be rescued from a camp ground by helicopter.

When all was done, nearly 100 people were killed, some of the bodies undiscovered until 30 years later and some still, have never been found. 

Devastation On The Delaware is both fascinating and devastating at the same time.  There were times while reading this I held my breath, feeling was about to happen as the pages turned and there was nothing I could do to stop….

~ Sheila

Sadly, this is one of those world events that I had never heard of prior to my book club choosing to read this book for our February review.  I have read many true stories on disasters through my life and this one in the beginning drew me in as it felt a little like the movie Twister, where the people had little to no warning before the waters went from the lake to encompassing the city.

While a book of this topic could seem a heavy read, Mary Shafer expertly keeps the reader engaged with stories from survivors that are both at times lite and funny, and yes, of course sometimes bring tears to your eyes.  The book is also filled with engaging pictures of the flood and maps of the areas affected by this  horrific storm.  While Mary talks about weather pattern and other storm related data but not in a way that it goes over this readers head.  She speaks in terms that I could certainly comprehend and imagine what the storm had to be like. 

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Mary brings a lot of people into the telling of the disaster and that is my only real  struggle with the book is that I like to know the people being written about and many people are hard to follow who is who and usually sends me (and did) back paging to find the person again and go “oh yeah, that’s the one that….”.  This is truly a “me” thing and others may have no trouble navigating the stories and those within each one.

Written in such a way that I felt I could have been there watching that water rise, Mary’s book is one not to be missed by those who like to read about history and events that changed our world and the people who experienced it forever.  I was truly appreciative of the book and this will be one I will certainly keep on my shelf and refer to in the years to come. 

You can find this book by following this link here.

Bookies Thoughts on this book:

My book club (all hail The Bookies!) read this as a group and reviewed it.  As a whole we found Devastation On The Delaware to be be very interesting.  While many of us needed much of the month to get through it because of the size and the topic, others had trouble putting it down once they opened it up. 

We were fascinated by the stories (a particular one that comes to mind is about a horse) and the pictures.  Living in Minnesota and near the Mississippi makes up familiar with water, but none of us had ever experienced anything as frightening as a dangerous flood.

We were lucky to have author Mary Shafer SKYPE in with us and showed us a slideshow of her research of the book and pictures of before, during, and after, the major flood.  Her presentation was engaging and she would stop for our questions and comments.  It was a wonderful addition to have her be a part of our review.  She knew her facts, but she was funny too… and it was a fun evening of learning and laughing.

Of course… we had food ;)

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You can find out more about this flood and others at:

https://www.facebook.com/DevastationDelaware

Focusonfloods.org

55flood.com

The Bookies Summer Fav Book Exchange

On Tuesday we had our June Bookies book club meeting.  Usually for July we have a “free read” month where we do not chose a book together but instead just read whatever and when we meet for our annual picnic/queen event in July just chat about whatever we read.

Amy P in out group heard of something a little different that we decided to try this year…

We were all to bring a wrapped up favorite book that we LOVED to let someone else experience.  The only rules were that it needed to be a book each of us truly enjoyed, not a book that we had all read together, and we were to put a post it note on the book saying why we wanted someone else to experience it and if the person who picked it could keep the book, or if the owner would like it back.

After we completed our June book review (Look Again by Lisa Scottoline), we each drew a number and in that order opened our books one at a time and the giver had a chance to say out loud to all of us why they enjoyed that book so much.

I brought a long time favorite of mine and a book that holds a special place in my heart:

The exchange was a lot of fun and the cool thing was, no one picked a book they had already read.

We are asked to now read the book we chose and talk about it next month at the Queen event. 

The books that people brought as the “best of the best” must read were (from top left and across)

The Host by Stephanie Meyer

Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve

The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani

First Family by David Baldacci

The Mermaid’s Chair by Sue Monk Kidd

The Bonesetters Daughter by Amy Tan

Dance Upon The Air by Nora Roberts

The Crying Tree by Naseem Rahka

One Second After by William Forstchen

Wine And War by Donald Cladstrup

One of our Bookies who was unable to attend the meeting sent a book so she could be included in the drawing  When it was picked and opened the book was a Baby Names book and inside it the post it note said:

“I do need this book back because we are expecting our first baby!”
Kerri

How cool is that?  Congratulations Kerri!!!  A new Bookie Baby coming in 2013!!!

I LOVE LOVE LOVE my book club and can not wait to read the book I drew – The Crying Tree.  And next months Queen event.… is the highlight of the year… and that is saying a lot! 

Have you read any of the books that were chosen as favorites above?  If so, which ones did you love?

The Making Of A Book Club

Stick around here long and you will hear about my book club the Bookies.  If you have been visiting me for any amount of time already, feel free to insert your eye roll here.  :razz:

This time you can blame Shirley at My Bookshelf who asked me, “Would you do a post about keeping book clubs energized and enthusiastic with some tips, please?

You don’t have to twist my arm to get me to talk about book club!  Any time you can bring books and people together… I am in.  :D

To start with let me give you my credentials.  I am pretty much just like you.  I am a book lover who loves to read and loves to talk books.  The Bookies started in fall of 2001, of course at the time… I did not know when I placed a note by the time clock at Wal-Mart that I was starting a book club and anyone could join, that it would turn into The Bookies. 

That first book I posted as a “read this and meet me here on blah blah day at blah blah time” was Dance Upon The Air by Nora Roberts.

I posted the note three weeks in advance and then I waited.  No one approached me.  No one asked me about the book group I was going to start.  The evening of the event, I told my husband I was going to see if anyone showed up but had an idea I would just be sitting alone in a pizza shop having a diet Pepsi with my book.  I would be home probably in thirty minutes chalking this one up as a fail.

Turns out…

I was not alone.

That evening Angie (my friend who runs the blog By Book Or By Crook) and Sandy joined me to discuss out book.  That day was August 14th, 2001.  We had a blast, we picked a second book, Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard was that book.

That second meeting was scheduled at the same place, same time, for September 11th, 2001.  Yes.  9-1-1.  That fateful day in history and I went to the meeting just in case someone showed up and as it turned out, all three of us came.  We shared in our sorrow over the days horrifying events and we reviewed our book.

Through the early years we grew to 8 members and remained that way until about year 5.  Around then we had a growth spurt that took us to 14 members and by year 8 we had 18 members.  During those growth spurts was when I started worrying about how to manage such a large group keeping us all on the book topic and keeping it interesting… that’s when we got creative.

Being such a large group it was hard to find restaurants to accommodate us and if we did find one, I worried that our laughter or our discussion might be disturbing the other patrons of the restaurant.  When we took turns opening out homes we decided to potluck food around the theme of the book.  Not only did this stretch our creative thinking, it bonded us through the food to the books.

Another element we added was visual props surrounding the book discussion.  A few of the ladies in the group would bring pictures or their laptops to show articles that had to do with the books topics.  For instance in a book we read once dealt with a lot of Victorian themed items.  Pictures were brought of what these items were and what they looked like.  More recently we had a power point of shoes, Italian foods and scenes of Italy played during our book review (Thank you Adraina Triginiani!)

In 2006 we added the July Queen Event where we do not choose a book to read for the month of July however we meet and grill on the lake either at a members home or at a park and we all dress in formal wear and try for Queen of the Bookies.  (The Queen breaks all book choice ties and chooses a place to meet if we are undecided during her rein).  This idea came from a book club read called Same Sweet Girls by Cassandra King.

Bookies Queen Event 2011

Bookies Queen Event 2010

Bookies Queen Event 2009

Bookies Queen Event 2008

Yearly in December we have a Christmas party, do a gift exchange and read a Christmas related book. If a book we read turns into a movie we try to attend as  a group.  We even have a Bookies Bucket List – things we would like to do as a book club.

We made a Facebook page to communicate the book, the food, where we are meeting, etc…

We have few rules.   We realize that life is busy and I would much rather have someone come and hang out with us even if they did not have time to read the book. As of July 2013 we added the rule that you needed to attend at least 6 meetings a year to hold your Bookie spot as currently we have a wait list of people wanting to get into our group.  We also implemented that we will not (in the future) go over the count of 16 Bookies.  It just gets too hard to find places big enough for us to meet, especially during the winter when we have to be inside.

Keep it fun, keep it interesting.  We grew together.  Start out with books, with food, with great conversation.  See which way your group grows.  Every book group is different but they can all be unique and fun. 

Currently Bookies is at 18 members.  We dont always all make every meeting, but we are really good at communicating our thoughts on the book and rating through emails, texting, and facebook.  I think the fact that we connect so well helps keep us a strong group.  We care about one another.  We celebrate birthdays and babies.  We hang together when someone if going through something rough.

Through our 11 years of existence we have had our growing pains and made it through.  It is not always easy to organize – but it is always fun :D  A group of motley crew people brought together…

by a book.  :D

I would love to hear about your book groups!  Or if you have questions I did not answer, leave them in the comments and I will respond. 

Sundays At Tiffany’s by James Patterson and Bookies Review

Jane Margaux is a girl who lives in a fairy tale world.  Her mother is the head of a powerful New York Theater and their home is filled with riches. 

Yet Jane is a very lonely little girl… her mother, the powerful and feared Vivian, makes time for her daughter once a week where on Sundays they go and admire the jewelery at Tiffany’s.

Jane has one friend who she can confide in and that would be Michael.  Michael listens to everything Jane says.  He hears and encourages her dreams and he shares with her the sorrows.  Michael is everything you would want in a best friend. 

Except…

Michael isn’t real.

And then on her 9th birthday, which is an epic disaster of its own, Michael tells Jane that he has to leave her.  He tells her while it hurts this day, when she wakes in the morning she will have forgotten him…. that’s the way it works…. that’s the way it has always worked.

But for Jane it doesn’t work that way… she misses her friend every day of her childhood and even into adult life.  Now producing her own play, a play about a young girl and her imaginary friend….. she is still under her mother’s thumb.  And then one day out of the corner of her eye she sees him….

could it be….

“Michael?”

Did you know Sundays At Tiffanys is also a Lifetime movie? I would like to see it.

My book club chose this book for our April read.  As you know from a recent post, I take no issue with Patterson and have found many of his books to be well written.  I have read him before when he wrote in this style and was impressed, his book Suzanne’s Diary For Nicholas was read in one sitting and left me in tears of joy and sorrow – all rolled into one. 

This was the first time I listened to a book club book rather than read it.  I was going to purchase the book but Kerri in our book club has picked up the audio at the library and was done listening to it and offered it to me.  I thought, why not?  What was funny was with the female narrator (who was very good!) I forgot who the author of the book was.  And it read on and the chapters flew by I remember thinking one day while I was driving through town, “wow this author has short chapters just like Patterson does.”  Then had to laugh – as I remembered, “Oh yeah… .this is Patterson.”

For most of the audio/book I adored the story.  I liked Jane, she starts out a little weak, but she is meant too – after all growing up in a household where you are constantly badgered by your mother on how to look, what to wear, what to eat…. yeah, that is going to leave a mark.  BUT – Jane is not all weak and you can see a flicker of her own personality start to slowly flicker and then burn brighter within her as the book goes on. 

I even really liked Michael – he is just a sweet guy and when the impossible happens, they find each other again, there is a sweet tone to the storyline – and I was still fine with the book…

Then somewhere along the line it hit me… when Jane was 9…. Michael wasn’t…. he was 32.  In fact he is 32 throughout the whole book being whatever he is (my book club tried to figure it out – an angel? A spirit? ) and never ages.  Now when they get back together Jane is very close to his age and its all cool – but I could not let go of the 32-year-old imaginary friend when Jane was a little girl.  I guess I just believed that when she was 9 so was he and that he just aged along with the rest of the world until they met again with adults.

Ok…. that whole scenario – put a creepy factor in my had on a scale of 1 – 10…. at about a 7. 

Overall – the book is a good read.  I did like the characters and I thought while the ending was all too neat and tied with a bow, it was still a respectable ending for a Patterson book that gave off a Nicholas Sparks vibe.

The 2011 WHERE Are You Reading Map has been update to include Sundays At Tiffany’s


Bookies Review

My book club met on Tuesday of this week to have dinner together and discuss this book.  I love it when we theme the foods to the book and Sundays at Tiffany’s is a dangerous book to do that with as the book is fulled with delights from Jane (and Michael’s) sweet tooth.   Thank you to Amy M’s hubby Paul for the delicious chocolate cake (this man can bake!) topped with truffles!  AND Laura brought an oreo ice cream cake as Jane’s favorite food is Oreos.  We also had a delicious chicken dish served on noodles or rice and Thai Chicken, a salad, and another chicken hot dish.  Amy served wine and lemonade, I brought cheese to go with the wine. 

I wanted to start out our discussion with everyone sharing if they had an imaginary friend when they were little… turns out, out of our group – I was the only one.  I was really surprised and through we would have a big discussion over this but it was just me.  her name was Julie…. I guess I was probably around that 8 or 9 age.  I remember walking with her at my grandmothers home in town, and I remember her in our home when I would talk to her about everything.  The group thought that maybe because I was an only child until I was 7 that may be why I had a “Julie” where they were all surrounded by siblings or other kids.  I found that very interesting as I had never thought about who has imaginary friends and who does not and why….

Over all the Bookies found the book to be a slightly higher than average read.  Only one other girl in our group found the Michael (32) and Jane (9) friendship to be creepy.  They looked at is as Jane’s replacement for the absence of her father in her life.  I can see that…. (ahhh the beauty of a book club discussion – you can things differently through others opinions!)  :D

We really did have fun discussing the book and that is one great thing about the Bookies, no matter what the book is like – we just enjoy getting together and always find a way to discuss the book and have fun.  We finished up our review with what our “can not pass up” foods are  and they were all over the board:  Chocolate cake, popcorn with cinnamon sugar and real butter on it, dill pickle sun flower seeds, toast with cinnamon and sugar and butter on it, cheese, anything chocolate….)

Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese

In 1947 Sister Mary Joseph Praise,a young nun, leaves the state of Kerala for a missionary post in Yemen.  While traveling by sea to her destination with another nun, a terrible illness falls upon many on the ship as well as on her travel mate.  When Sister Mary Joseph searches out the assistance of the doctor on the ship she finds that he as well is gravely ill.  Sister Mary Joseph Praise works hard to bring his fever down and saves the life of the English Doctor Thomas Stone.

When the boat docks, Thomas asks Mary is she would like to join him to serve in Ethiopia as a nurse.  Mary declines having her own destiny, but destiny turns on her and eventually she finds herself not only in Ethiopia but working with Thomas Stone.

Seven years pass and Sister Mary Joseph Praise is found to be pregnant, much to the surprise of everyone including Thomas who has worked with her seven days a week all of these years and has never seen her with anyone, let alone the fact hat she is a nun!  During childbirth, Mary dies – but leaves the legacy of identical twin brothers Shiva and Marion.

This is their story, as narrated by Marion.

 

 


This 600+ page read was intimidating.  In fact I took one look at the book and thought, “my book club is going to kill me.”  This was a bonus review our group was doing which means that in addition to our usual monthly read, a smaller group of us had agreed to take on a couple additional reads the last two months and cook to the books theme.  This book being the second of these reviews, the first was last month with Olive Kitteridge.

As I prepared to read this book I had heard from several sources that the book started slow – but do not worry,as it would pick up and was so worth it.  I was fully ready to drag through the first 100 or so pages, and then I started reading and found it not to drag at all – but instead pull.  This book pulled me from page to page as I lapped up the scenes, the situations and the sheer awe of everything that happened to Sister Mary Joseph and then to heart of the story – the boys Shiva and Marion.

I soaked up every word, jotting down words I was not familiar with, marking down the pages where I found food references for our review.  As I read I pulled in images from two other books that took my breath away – Slumdog Millionaire and The Kite Runner….. I easily found that this book deserved a seat next to these smart deep reads on my shelf.

I could not get this book in me fast enough.  It followed me everywhere so I could grab a couple of pages here and there.  I wish I would have had someone take pictures of all the places it has been and all the places I have read, including the two times I fell asleep with it.

In the end, I was sad, but satisfied.  I had that rare feeling I get when I know I have just read something amazing. profound, and that will stay with me, close to my heart for a long long time.

If you have not read Cutting For Stone I highly recommend you give yourself a treat by doing so.

Amazon Rating

The 2011 WHERE Are You reading Map has been updated to include Cutting For Stone

I purchased this book at the local library sale

 

 

Bookies Book Club Review

As I mentioned above this book was a review for our book club.  We have completed a bonus read the past two months to really focus on the food as well as the book and this book turned out to be a delight not only for the senses, but for our taste buds too.  As we gathered around a counter filled with Doro Wot (an Ethiopian Spicy Chicken dish), Chicken Curry, Ethiopian Fruit salad, substitute Injera bread, two kinds of iab, lentil curry, dabo kola, and warm coke.  :D

The girls agreed – this was probably the best book/food review we have ever done.  The food was divine!  The spices exploded on our tongue and the iab is actually used in Ethiopia as a follow up dish to the spicy foods to cool your palate.  As we dined on our delicious treats we discussed a book that had impressed us all.  The characters were real, we had different opinions on who was our favorite character, and found that all the characters carries some sort of baggage from the past that affected who they were today… we pondered over that a bit, finding it fascinating how peoples past can control who they are today…

This book made for a wonderful discussion read.  We found Shiva to be a brilliant introvert, so deep thinking that at times words were useless to him and somewhat – beneath him.  His remark about saying all women were beautiful showed he seen people differently than most of us do.  He liked the way women were put together and he liked what women could do… that said, while he spent time with many women, we found that he lacked any real relationship skills and did not seek out anything beyond the immediate.

Marion on the other hand had a deep compassion.  His emotions ran high either when he was wearing his heart on his sleeve or when he was storming out of a building fists clenched to his sides.


Of course we came with recipes…. and here are the foods of Cutting For Stone:


 


Doro Wot

Doro Wot

2 packages of chicken strips
2 sticks on unsalted butter (I used salted as that is what I had)
1 onion chopped
3 tablespoons fresh garlic
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cloves
cayenne pepper
black pepper
1/4 cup sweet white wine (I used what I had on hand)
(the recipe called for a cinnamon stick during the simmer process but that scared me so I didnt add it)
8 hard boiled eggs
2 bottles of chili sauce (found by the BBQ sauce in stores)

Melt the butter in your skillet and add the chopped onion, garlic,and ginger…. let simmer uncovered 30 minutes.  Then add the cloves, 3 tablespoons of Cayenne pepper, the wine, and the chili sauce, continue to simmer.

Hard boil the eggs, cool, peal, and set aside.

In a separate pan put a little water in it and lightly cook the chicken pieces on each side and then add to the skillet with the sauce mixture.  Put cover over over wot and let simmer cook for 30 – 45 minutes.  10 minutes before completion of cooking, take off lid, roughly chop eggs and place them into mixture.

Finish cooking ans serve :)

*  I substituted Chili sauce when i could not find berbere ( a red chili spice blend used in many Ethiopian foods).

 

 


Red Lentil Curry 

Red lentil Curry

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup red lentils
1/2 large onion, diced
1-1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon curry paste
1-1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon ginger root, minced
1/2 (14.25 ounce) can tomato puree

DIRECTIONS:
You have scaled this recipe’s ingredients to yield a new amount (4). The directions
below still refer to the original recipe yield (8).
1. Wash the lentils in cold water until the water runs clear (this is very important or the
lentils will get “scummy”), put the lentils in a pot with water to cover and simmer
covered until lentils tender (add more water if necessary).
2. While the lentils are cooking: In a large skillet or saucepan, caramelize the onions in
vegetable oil.
3. While the onions are cooking, combine the curry paste, curry powder, turmeric,
cumin, chili powder, salt, sugar, garlic, and ginger in a mixing bowl. Mix well. When
the onions are cooked, add the curry mixture to the onions and cook over a high heat
stirring constantly for 1 to 2 minutes.
4. Stir in the tomato puree and reduce heat, allow the curry base to simmer until the
lentils are ready.
5. When the lentils are tender drain them briefly (they should have absorbed most of the
water but you don’t want the curry to be too sloppy). Mix the curry base into the lentils
and serve immediately.

 

 


Ethiopian Fruit Salad

Ethiopian Fruit Salad

  • 1 ripe mango, peeled and cut in pieces
  • 1 small, ripe papaya, peeled and cut in pieces
  • 1 navel orange, peel removed and cut in sections
  • 1 1/2 cups seedless grapes
  • 1 banana, sliced

Directions

Combine all the cut up fruit. Add the banana at the last minute

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Chicken Curry

 

Chicken Curry

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
  • 1/2 teaspoon white sugar
  • salt to taste
  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Saute onion until lightly browned. Stir in garlic, curry powder, cinnamon, paprika, bay leaf, ginger, sugar and salt. Continue stirring for 2 minutes. Add chicken pieces, tomato paste, yogurt, and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.
  2. Remove bay leaf, and stir in lemon juice and cayenne pepper. Simmer 5 more minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iab (aiyb)

1 pound small-curd cottage cheese or farmer cheese
4 tablespoons yogurt
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon salad herbs
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Iab is a white curd cheese very much like the Greek feta. Special herbs are added (and sometimes chopped vegetables) which give it its characteristically acid taste. Since the cheese used in Ethiopia is not available here, this recipe is an attempt to simulate Iab.

In a 1-quart bowl: Combine cottage cheese or farmer cheese, yogurt, grated lemon rind, salad herbs, chopped parsley, salt black pepper.

The mixture should be moist enough to spoon but dry enough to stay firm when served. Drain off excess liquid.

 

 

 

 


Dabo Kolo

Dabo Kolo (I sprinkled the sugar on top)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup oil

Procedure

  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Add water slowly to create a stiff dough.
  3. Knead on a lightly floured board for about 5 minutes. (To knead, flatten the dough, fold in half. Then turn the dough about one-quarter turn, and fold again. Keep turning and folding the dough.)
  4. Pull off pieces of dough to fit on the palm of the hand.
  5. Press or roll out (using a rolling pin) into a strip about ½-inch thick on a floured countertop.
  6. Cut the strip into squares ½-inch by ½-inch.
  7. Cook in a frying pan on medium heat until light brown in color on all sides.

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

Grab your coat and a change of clothes, we are going on an amazing adventure – and once we get started, you are not going to want to turn back!

Sheila

It is 1913 and a little four-year old girl is found coming off a ship in Australia.  She has no memory and is taken in to the home of the dockmaster and his wife and raised as their own.  When Nell, as we come to know her, turns 21, her life is turned upside down when the dockmaster shares the secret that she is not who she thinks she is.

Tormented,by the mysteries behind who she is, Nell’s only clues to her past are within a small suitcase that was with her when she was found abandoned.  Many years pass and within the pages of a book of fairy tales Nell is able to put enough together to find that she was from England and just as she is about to embark on the journey that holds the keys to her past, her granddaughter Cassandra is left in her care. All plans are then placed on hold so Nell can raise her granddaughter.

When Nell dies, it is Cassandra who picks up where the clues left off – finding herself drawn to the mysteries of who her grandmother was, she takes the journey that Nell never had the opportunity to… and unlocks a much bigger story than anyone could have imagined.

Starting out in 2005 with Cassandra and the passing of Nell, we weave back to 1913 when Nell first arrived off the ship, to 1930 when Nell turns 21, to 1976 when Nell takes Cassandra into her home.

Looking at that above paragraph you can think that this 552 page book could be just a jumble of happenings and a big confusing mess… and..

you would be wrong.

Kate Morton weaves together strong women through the decades that in some cases never met, but still have their stories entwined, making not only the women, but the story , stronger.  This writing style would not be for the light of heart or for someone of little imagination as you could easily get lost in the worlds that are within the pages, but again I had no trouble sorting out the story line, more and more fascinated and deeper involved as each page was turned.   Kate Morton holds together each story on its own and a more in-depth read I have not encountered in a long time.

As Kate is quoted from her website:

I like to think of The Forgotten Garden that way: just as a Victorian mourning brooch contains a plait made from the hairs of family members, my book’s narrative binds the lives of three women in three different eras into a single story.

At first I admit that I did find myself trying to remember what was happening when as each chapter for the most part switches years and pieces of the story.  I was asked why I was not whipping through the book, and my response was that as I read I would have to back track to recall where I was and what was happening….  however, about 100 pages in, I picked up on the flow of the read and started to truly engage in each of the different parts of the story – looking forward to what was going to happen next.

Read in the Reading Room

I was in awe of how author Kate Morton was able to detail each part of the book so well and there was no story line that lagged.  In books I have read in the past that have attempted this style of writing I have found that I prefer a storyline and skim through the others just to get back to what I like, this was not the case in this book.  Each woman was so detailed in their time period I felt as though I was there – from the detailed descriptions of the houses to the clothing and the background characters, they all held a secure spot in bringing this divine work of literature to a very satisfying close that will not soon leave my heart.

Amazon Rating

Bookies Book Club Review:

This was our book club pick for our January 2011 review.  It was a fun discussion and I was pleased to see that for as big as this book was, almost all of the group had finished it is time for the review, with a few exceptions (me included!), yet everyone was planning to finish.

My favorite discussion question was the one where we talked about what would happen if you found out everything you thought was true about your life, was false, such as Nell did when she turned 21.  At that point Nell made huge life changing decisions because of this news.  This surprised me and our discussion became pretty deep as we talked about how we would each take such news.  While some of us felt you could move froward from that moment with little disruption to your life, others strongly disagreed and felt that news like that would truly change the course of your life and you would always be left with that “what if”, and “who am I really” feeling.

Out overall rating on a scale of 1 – 5 was a strong 4.8.  In many cases, the highest rating some of our members have ever given a book.


The WHERE Are You Reading Map has been updated to include The Forgotten Garden


I won this book from Helen’s book blog

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