Books to read for Book Club

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copyright Powers Library bookclub

I was recently asked to help found a book club, never mind that I’m already a member of a book club. What is it about people and exclusivity? We all want some.

Here’s a list of the books that had the most people talking actually ABOUT the book rather than the latest gossip. And when I say talking, I mean thick, meaty discussions that allowed for some intense conversation.

I also highly recommend that when hosting, you provide dessert, and that the dessert has chocolate somewhere in the name/ingredient list. Because, so help me, if you serve a vegetable platter, I might throw it at you.

EIGHT BOOKS TO READ IN YOUR BOOK CLUB: (details below)

Elizabeth: My Story
This heartbreaking memoir follows the Elizabeth Smart story about the 14-year-old girl that was kidnapped from her Salt Lake City home, then fortunately returned a little less than a year later. Topics could include kidnapping, child molestation, polygamy, panhandling, helping the homeless, judging others, etc.
This was a wide-eyed read for me, a scary experience from page to page, especially because I’m familiar with the Salt Lake area, having hiked extensively there. The inside look into the type of man who would do something like this was incredibly revealing and truly horrifying.
I hugged and kissed my children much longer in the weeks following my reading, and I got rid of it – partly so others could read it, partly because I don’t plan on reading it again.

Hidden Figures
This book is essentially about the black women that worked for NASA during the space race – a lovely tribute to both women and a minority and the roles they played at the time. However, it’s so much more. In these pages are vignettes about others who worked for NASA, others that lived during this time of racial and gender inequality, and sometimes those are the best parts.
Topics may include racial or gender inequality, the growth and change in science, the space race, the working woman, etc.

Ruth
Elizabeth Gaskell’s version of The Scarlet Letter, it has a more intricate plot and depth to characters that allow for better reader-character interaction. Topics may include fallen women, manipulation of others, reputation, illegitimate children, forgiveness and repentance, etc.
Gaskell is one of my favorite authors. Her book North and South is wonderful, and the movie beats any Jane Austen adaptation – yes, I’m serious. Try Cranford and Wives and Daughters too – also fantastic, and yes, the movies are also wonderful.

The Hiding Pace
Another memoir, this time of a WWII survivor who was Christian, but spent those horrifying years hiding Jews. Topics could include Concentration Camps, WWII, war and its effects, what it means to be a true Christian, etc.
This is a book I’ve read and reread over and over again since I was very young. It reads smoothly, and Corrie is a woman who feels real; someone you can commiserate with, making the story all the more personal. The Christian themes can be for anyone – her big heart inspires us all to be better in our trials, whatever they  may be.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
This fictional novella by the well-known Robert Louis Stevenson is pulled apart over and over again as we argue about the nature of man, and of course the obvious question: Can we truly overcome our baser side?
Topics could include the nature of mankind, the search for truth or meaning, including it necessary?, the idea of science intervening with psychology and religion, and of course agency of humanity, etc.
I love Robert Louis Stevenson’s style, so I find his short stories my favorite. However, for a book club, this allows for some very strong and important opinions to be shared. Also, is that cover not perfect??!

Room
Held captive for years, a woman and her young son are finally freed, allowing for her son to finally see the outside world for the first time. Topics could include kidnapping, rape, the raising and care of children, etc.
I couldn’t read this book when it came time for my  book club. Others had a wonderful time talking about the intense subject matter, but as a mother of a son, it felt like it would be too easy to have nightmares.

The Man in the Brown Suit
Any of Agatha Christie’s mysteries would serve – they’re all exceptionally well written (This is a favorite). What’s really interesting about her stories is the psychology behind the characters. I defy you to read a book and find a character that acts uncharacteristically. Topics may include murder and what would drive someone to such an act, the predictability of mankind, and the psychology of a person, etc.

The Trimmed Lamp
O’Henry wrote a ridiculous amount of short stories, but they were all incredible. Thought-provoking and inspiring and interesting, all within about 10 pages. Grab a couple of them for a shorter read (say November? December?) that will still pack a punch during your discussion. I recommend The Trimmed Lamp for starters, a lovely story about two young women and the choices they make.

Lastly, I just wanted to add that if your book club needs something relaxing, say…a fluffy romantic ‘beach’ read? You could try A Wager to Win, which is most definitely fluffy. The sequel will be coming this summer too! Of course, if you’re in a mother-daughter book club and need something you’ll both like…you could try The Unbreakable Curse, my fractured fairy-tale. I would love to know what you think of either or both of them, so feel free to drop me a line or leave a comment.

Happy Reading!

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Book Review: The Scavenger, by J. L. Willow

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The Scavenger, by J. L. Willow is a YA suspense thriller with some teen angst and a strong drug angle to go with. This contemporary high school story will scare you without giving you nightmares – a plus if you still sleep with a night-light. (No judgment.)

The writing is interesting and well-structured. I would say that too often the author doesn’t get the tone right, leaving the characters speaking roughly the same and a little stilted, while the descriptions (which are excellent) still feel a little stiff.

The plot is interesting as well, and considering so many events lately in the U.S. and the legalization of marijuana, etc, it’s very relevant and relate-able on some level to almost everyone. My biggest pet peeve is how it ended. I think with the dark subject matter, I expected a darker ending.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Age recommendation: 14+ (A precocious kid could handle it, though, and frankly, if you’ve read the 3rd book of the Ranger’s Apprentice series, this isn’t any rougher than that, so revised… 10+? depending on your kid.)

Parental advisement: swearing isn’t too hard core, second and third hand accounts of teenagers overdosing and of course the references to drug dealing, adults who drink and are physically abusive, homeless kid, a gun shooting

 

Book Review: My Big Fat…Fat, by Samantha Dee

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My Big Fat… Fat By Samantha Dee

This book is part memoir, part self-help, part humor, and all parts very real.
The author puts plenty of her snarky sense of humor into her alphabetical organization, which reviews the lifestyles of having a little extra to carry around.
For those that want to lose weight, this may help inspire you without making you feel depressed, while those who are good with where they are may still find it interesting (I once even whipped out my calculator), and motivating to keep your healthy habits and/or exercise regime.
Either way, I promise you will laugh about once per page. 🙂

Most books read in 2017; How does your state add up?

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Thriftbooks put together this fun infographic, which I think is pretty interesting. I do wish I knew how they put together the data. Was it books bought by them? Do they have access to other sources? How many people were polled per state? What percentage of the population did that average?

What we’ve learned from this:
1. Oklahoma, West Virginia and Iowa are the most naughty.
2. Nebraska is the most optimistic.
3. Minnesota is the nicest, and California is going to be?
4. Hawaii has made great strides.
5. A lot of people are still reading Harry Potter.
6. America is boring. There’s not one book on here that’s on my to-read list. I’ve either already read it (thank you high school required lit), or I’m not going to.

Free short story to download!

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At the top of my blog and over on my sidebar, there’s a new link in town…a downloads page where there will eventually be a list of free short stories (some teeny tiny and some more novella-sized) you can download.

At the moment I have the first up for you, a quick little 1000-word clean romance that’s just a fun read when you have a moment. Let me know what you think! Any requests on genres or ideas? I’d love to hear them all.

Happy Reading!

Giveaway: A Wager To Win!

Happy Easter! and Happy Spring! This is gold ink on black paper, but it just doesn’t photograph well. Ugh!

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I thought that a giveaway was in order. My clean Regency romance is available for giveaway (ebook edition) on Amazon here for the next 2 weeks.
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A reminder of the synopsis:

When Lord Harrington mysteriously leaves the London season much too early, he sets tongues wagging. He would wager he will never marry.
His mother, frustrated that neither of her sons can seem to settle down, insists on a house party where only carefully selected guests have been invited. She would never be so vulgar as to wager.
The young lady Lord Harrington was courting is distraught that he left without proposing marriage. When she receives a coveted invitation to the house party, she views it as her chance to triumph. This paragon would wager she will be Countess of Harrington by Christmas.
When an unwanted guest shows up, wagers of the most…interesting kind are made. Especially when anonymous letters begin to be exchanged.