December 21, 2014

December 2014

Wishing you merry holidays and a happy and healthy new year!  Many thanks to the friends, family and authors who made this a very special year.

At our holiday party we discussed:

The Blood of an Englishman - M.C. Beaton
Book of Ages:  The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin - Jill Lepore
The Happiness Project - Gretchen Rubin
Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage - Molly Wizenberg
Me Before You - Jojo Moyes
The Death of Money - James Rickards
Tom Jackson's book blog Jackson St. Book Club
The Darwin Awards - Wendy Northcutt
Factory Man - Beth Macy
Station Eleven - Emily St. John Mandel
A Man Called Ove - Fredrik Backman
Ghost Map - Steven Johnson
The city of Sandusky was once known as Portland
Beautiful Ruins - Jess Walter
All the Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr

From our sister club in OK:



Faulkner, James. Requiem for a Nun
Gilbert, Elizabeth. The Signature of All Things
Jack, Belinda. The Woman Reader
James, P.D. Death Comes to Pemberley
Maclean, Norman. Young Men and Fire
Mitchell, David. Cloud Atlas
Rendell, Ruth. No Man’s Nightingale
Stafford, Ed. Walking the Amazon: 860 Days. One Step at a Time



Barbusse, Henri. Under Fire
Bennett, Alan. An Uncommon Reader
Block, Lawrence. Walk Among the Tombstones
Chevalier, Tracy. Falling Angels
Clancy, Tom. Command Authority; Full Force and Effect
Flagg, Fanny. The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion
Follett, Ken. Whiteout
Hiaasen, Carl. Star Island
King, Laurie. Beekeeper’s Apprentice; A Monstrous Regiment of Women
Kingsolver, Barbara. Bean Trees
Lehane, Dennis. The Given Day
Mitchell, David. Cloud Atlas
Piper, Don. 90 Minutes in Heaven
Rendell, Ruth. No Man’s Nightingale
Scottoline, Lisa. Don’t Go
Vestal, Shawn. Godforsaken Idaho


Despicable Me 2
Walk Among the Tombstones


Decision Height


Downton Abbey

We ARE book people, who meet once a month for dinner and scintillating conversation which turns partly (but only partly!) on books. That’s who we are. And National Book Lovers Day is a marvelous tip of the hat to who we are. But we would be book people even without National Book Lovers Day. Frantzie Couch

From Mary Lou in MD:

Jodi Picoult, Lone Wolf (2012). This is another engrossing novel by this very talented author. The “lone wolf” is wildlife biologist Luke, who is so obsessed with these animals that he spends two years living as a member of a pack in the wilds of Ontario. Even when he is home in New Hampshire, he spends most of his time with the wolves at the small wild animal rescue park he runs. His obsession is hard on his wife Georgie, his daughter Cara, and his son Edward. At the beginning of the novel, he is critically injured in an auto accident. Georgie, now happily married and the mother of twins calls the estranged Edward home from Thailand. Reluctantly, the three of them must learn to function as a family unit again as they consider whether to end Luke’s life support. The narration shifts among the four of them and reveals the traumas and secrets that drove them apart. As Luke narrates his experiences, we learn a great deal about the behavior and values of a wolf pack. The parallels between the norms of family and wolf pack are intriguing, but not strained. Georgie, Edward and Cara gradually come to terms with more truths than they ever imagined in the course of deciding Luke’s fate.

Clive Cussler and Dirk Cussler, Treasure of the Khan (2006). This has as much action and as many improbably escapes from disaster as any of Cussler’s novels. The historical background includes Genghis Khan, Kublai Khan, and an archeological expedition that disappeared in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia in 1937. The present day action begins with Pitt and Giordino conducting a deep water survey of Lake Baikal just north of the Mongolia border in Russia. Trouble starts with a mysterious earthquake under the lake. The villain of the piece is bent on taking over the world oil market. There is more than enough gratuitous destruction.

Sandra Brown, Smoke Screen (2008). Charleston, SC TV journalist Britt Shelby wakes up with a massive hangover in the bed of a former lover and can’t remember how she came to be there. Worse yet, after she has showered and dressed, she discovers that Jay Burgess is dead. The police suspect her of the murder (of course). They don’t believe her claim that she can remember nothing about the evening because someone drugged her drink at the bar where she met Jay. Britt’s attempts to find out what happened lead her deep into the story of a fatal fire at police Headquarters 5 years before, and Jay and the other police heroes of that fire. Then Britt is contacted by Raley Gannon, the arson investigator who was discredited before completing his investigation. The trail of treachery, brutality, corruption, and assassination takes many surprising twists and turns. Britt and Raley escape many life-threatening situations in the course of determining exactly who is behind all the crimes.

Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken (2010). Louie Zamperini was a boyhood delinquent until his older brother got him interested in running. Great determination and dedication enabled him to make the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Louie was a member of the University of Southern California track team and training hard for future Olympics when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941. Louie enlisted in the Army Air Force. In May 1943 his bomber crashed into the Pacific. Somehow Louie and a few of his crew mates survive for weeks adrift in a life raft without provisions,. When they finally drift to land, they are taken prisoner by the Japanese. Because of the brutality of the Japanese soldiers and guards against the POWs, the camps are even more life-threatening than the ocean. This cinematically detailed true story accurately and suspensefully portrays one man’s experience of the WW II air war in the Pacific.

Jerry Apps, In a Pickle (2007). This story of 1950s family farms is set in fictitious Link Lake, founded by Increase Joseph in Ames County, in central Wisconsin. Korean War Vet Andy Meyer works on his family’s farm and manages the local pickle factory during the summer. Most of the small family farms supplement their erratic and meagre incomes by raising a ½- to 2- acre pickle patch. The owners of the pickle factory are headquartered in Chicago and are encouraging farmers to borrow money, acquire more land and equipment, and plant dozens of acres of cucumbers on contract with the company. Andy’s father avoids debt and continues farming the old fashioned way, but his friend and neighbor prides himself on adopting modern methods. The community debates small family farms vs. industrial farms and their one room school vs. consolidation and busing. Faculty of the University of Wisconsin AG School and Education Department meet with the community and advocate for change. Meanwhile, Andy has a series of challenges managing the aging equipment and eccentric workforce of the pickle plant. Neither the characters nor the plot are particularly intriguing, but the presentation of 1950s rural Wisconsin is vividly detailed, making this a very interesting read.

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