1.  “The Divide”   Author: Nicholas Evans  Paperback: 512 pages  Publisher:  Signet, 2007

 The DivideA pretty, upper-middle-class girl is discovered frozen in Montana ice and is soon identified as Abbie Cooper, wanted for murder by the FBI. After a promising beginning that introduces a colorful cast of Montana locals, Evans breaks off and flashes back to Abbie’s upbringing in suburban New York, and centers the book on Abbie’s now-divorced parents, Ben and Sarah. Evans follows the Coopers’ high-end careers and estrangement from their domestic lives in meticulous, mind-numbing detail; their separation propels the already idealistic Abbie into the arms of Rolf, a shadowy eco-terrorist. As Abbie’s Patty Hearst-like adventures in the eco-underworld slowly unfold, Ben takes up with Sante Fe-based artist Eve, and Sarah is left alone with son Josh, who emerges late in the novel as an improbable principal.  ~Publishers Weekly Review

Look, Mom, Look’s Review:

A good story but not a ton of depth.  An easy beginning for a book club but you may want to choose more of a conversation starter for bookclub discussion.   I would say it’s a good read for a day at the beach.

2.   “My Sister’s Keeper”  Author:  Jodi Picoult    Paperback:  448 pages   Publisher:  Washington Square Press, 2005

  My Sister's Keeper: A Novel

Anna was genetically engineered to be a perfect match for her cancer-ridden older sister. Since birth, the 13-year-old has donated platelets, blood, her umbilical cord, and bone marrow as part of her family’s struggle to lengthen Kate’s life. Anna is now being considered as a kidney donor in a last-ditch attempt to save her 16-year-old sister. As this compelling story opens, Anna has hired a lawyer to represent her in a medical emancipation suit to allow her to have control over her own body. Picoult skillfully relates the ensuing drama from the points of view of the parents; Anna; Cambell, the self-absorbed lawyer; Julia, the court-appointed guardian ad litem; and Jesse, the troubled oldest child in the family. Everyone’s quandary is explicated and each of the characters is fully developed.   ~School Library Press Review/Summary

Look, Mom, Look’s Review:

Our group loved this book!  It was a great book for a book club discussion.  It sparks thinking and questions without being hard to read.  It touched us all!  If you have not read this, put it on your list of must reads now!  Just have a box of kleenex handy for the end.

3.  “The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing”, Author:  Melissa Banks  Paperback: 228 pages  Publisher:  Penguin, 2005

 The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing

Banks’s debut short story collection about the mixed-up dating life of Jane Rosenal was a hit on the beach-reading circuit this summer. Hearing the author’s conviction while she reads her work proves why: there is an uncanny likeness between the writer and her feisty-but-neurotic heroine. Banks plays up this mood by narrating in a quiet, seductive voiceAone that nonetheless manages to convey a sense of sustained desperation. The episodes move chronologically, starting with Jane’s girl’s-eye view of her older brother, Henry, in bumbling action as he dates an older, more sophisticated woman. At age 16, Jane moves in with a great-aunt in her Manhattan apartment, then sees the world through her host’s jaded eyes. Later, as a lowly assistant in publishing, she is seduced by an older editor, a super-macho alcoholic who suffers impotence. Banks’s gifts of distanced objectivityAas author and readerAdovetail here with stylish panache. Based on the 1999 Viking hardcover. (Aug.) ~Publisher’s Weekly Review

Look, Mom, Look!’s Review:

I honestly don’t remember too much about this book.  I wonder if that means something??  I do remember thinking that it was cute but no match for have just having read “My Sister’s Keeper”.  It was hard to adjust to such a light and fluffy read after that one.  This one is probably a good book for the beach or a lazy afternoon on the couch.

4.  “The Man in the Basement”   Author:  Walter Mosley  Paperback: 272 pages  Publisher:  Back Bay Books, 2005

A Novel

In this stand-alone literary tale, themes are in the forefront as Mosley abandons action in favor of a volatile, sometimes unspoken dialogue between Charles Blakey and Anniston Bennet. Blakey, descended from a line of free blacks reaching back into 17th-century America, lives alone in the big family house in Sag Harbor. Bennet is a mysterious white man who approaches Blakey with a strange proposition-to be locked up in Blakey’s basement-that Blakey comes to accept only reluctantly and with reservations. The magnitude of Bennet’s wealth, power and influence becomes apparent gradually, and his quest for punishment and, perhaps, redemption, proves unsettling-to the reader as well as to Blakey, who finds himself trying to understand Bennet as well as trying to recast his own relatively purposeless life. The shifting power relationship between Bennet and Blakey works nicely, and it is fitting that Blakey’s thoughts find expression more in physicality than in contemplation; his involvements with earthy, sensual Bethany and racially proud, sophisticated and educated Narciss reflect differing possibilities. The novel, written in adorned prose that allows the ideas to breathe, will hold readers rapt; it is Mosley’s most philosophical novel to date, as he explores guilt, punishment, responsibility and redemption as individual and as social constructs.  Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Look, Mom, Look’s Review:

Wow!  This was a deeper book than we expected.  It was a little hard to figure out what was going to be the main “lesson” of the book.  However, most readers will find that you can find many lessons about meaning and purpose in life.  The colorful characters were described very well and you were often wondering “what was the deal” with the man in the basement.  This was a means that the author used to draw you into the story.  It wasn’t our favorite book but an interesting read none-the-less.

5.  “The Way the Crow Flies”  Author:  Ann-Marie MacDonald  Paperback: 848 pages  Publisher:  Harper Perennial  2004

A Novel (P.S.)

A little girl’s body, lying in a field, is the first image in this absorbing, psychologically rich second novel by the Canadian author of the bestselling Fall on Your Knees. Then the focus shifts to the appealing McCarthy family. It’s 1962, and Jack, a career officer in the RCAF, has just been assigned to the Centralia air force base in Ontario. Jack’s wife, Mimi, is a domestic goddess; their children, Mike, 12, and Madeleine, 8, are sweet, loving kids. This is an idyllically happy family, but its fate will be threatened by a secret mission Jack undertakes to watch over a defector from Soviet Russia, who will eventually be smuggled into the U. S. to work on the space program. Jack is an intensely moral, decent guy, so it takes him a while to realize that the man is a former Nazi who commanded slave labor in Peenemande, where the German rockets were built in an underground cave. Meanwhile, Madeleine is one of several fourth graders who are being molested by their teacher, and one of them winds up dead in that field. McDonald is an expert storyteller who can sustain interest even when the pace is slow, as it is initially, providing an intricate recreation of life on a military base in the 1960s. As the narrative darkens, however, it becomes a chronicle of innocence betrayed. The exquisite irony is that both Madeleine and her father, unbeknownst to each other, are keeping secrets involving the day of the murder. The subtheme is the cynical decision by the guardians of the U.S. space program to shelter Nazi war criminals in order to win the race with the Russians. The finale comes as a thunderclap, rearranging the reader’s vision of everything that has gone before. It’s a powerful story, delicately layered with complex secrets, told with a masterful command of narrative and a strong moral message.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Look, Mom, Look’s Review:

I heard a lot of complaining at the beginning of this book.  The size of the book was daunting and the beginning of the book was so detail laden that the reading was very slow.  However, once we got into the meat of the book, most in our group could not stop reading it.  It was filled with surprises and twists that we did not expect. The time frame of the novel and the Canadian perspective was also interesting.  I became more interested in the historical framework of the story due to this different perspective.  I would highly recommend this book for reading groups.  There is so much to discuss.  Just don’t give up before the first 50 pages!

 The Time Traveler’s Wife  Author: Audrey Niffenegger, Paperback: 556 pgs; Publisher:  Harvest Book/Harcourt Inc,  2003.

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Book Summary/Description (ReadingGroupGuides.com):

Audrey Niffenegger’s innovative debut, The Time Traveler’s Wife, is the story of Clare, a beautiful art student, and Henry, an adventuresome librarian, who have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-three and Henry thirty-one. Impossible but true, because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder: periodically his genetic clock resets and he finds himself misplaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity in his life, past and future. His disappearances are spontaneous, his experiences unpredictable, alternately harrowing and amusing.
The Time Traveler’s Wife depicts the effects of time travel on Henry and Clare’s marriage and their passionate love for each other as the story unfolds from both points of view. Clare and Henry attempt to live normal lives, pursuing familiar goals—steady jobs, good friends, children of their own. All of this is threatened by something they can neither prevent nor control, making their story intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.

Look, Mom, Look!’s Review:

When I started reading this book I was so excited to get started.  I had heard many great things about it and wanted to find out why it was such a recommended book.  Well, after reading the first few pages I was so confused by this time travel business, that I almost just skipped ahead to the ending.  I was spending so much time flip-flopping back and forth to check dates and the ages of the characters, that it took me ages to read a “chapter”.  I thought the book was frustrating and lacked “a point”.  BUT, whatever you do, don’t give up reading this story!!  It takes a little getting used to but the last half was amazing.  I couldn’t put it down about halfway through it.  I was finally used to the writing style and attached to the characters.  The story is so interesting in that you can see both the before and after in these characters lives.  It seems like it must have taken forever to write and link together all the events throughout the book.  Niffenegger did a wonderful job in that respect.  Plus, the ending…a real tearjerker.  I hate to admit I cried over a love story, but Clare waited for him!!!  I will expand more after our discussion.  Right now I have to go and wipe the tears off the keyboard.  Sniff, Sniff, I am am a sniveling mess about it.

                          

2 Responses to “Book Club – Time Travelers Wife”

  1. thediaperdiaries Says:
    June 28th, 2007 at 12:57 am eI bawled like a baby. This book is one of my recent faves. I liken it to the movie “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” 2 thumbs up from me!
  2. bigbinder Says:
    July 8th, 2007 at 1:47 am eI cannot wait to discuss this book! What a love story. Definitely in my top 5 of Book Club books.

 The Boleyn Inheritance  Author: Phillippa Gregory  Hardcover:  514 pgs; Publisher:  Touchstone, 2006. 

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Book Summary/Description: (Publisher’s Weekly

Returning to the scene of The Other Boleyn Girl, historical powerhouse Gregory again brings the women of Henry VIII’s court vividly to life. Among the cast, who alternately narrate: Henry’s fourth wife, Bavarian-born Anne of Cleves; his fifth wife, English teenager Katherine Howard; and Lady Rochford (Jane Boleyn), the jealous spouse whose testimony helped send her husband… and sister-in-law Anne Boleyn to their execution. Attended by Lady Rochford, 24-year-old Anne of Cleves endures a disastrous first encounter with the twice-her-age king—an occasion where Henry takes notice of Katherine Howard. Gregory beautifully explains Anne of Cleves’s decision to stay in England after her divorce, and offers contemporary descriptions of Lady Rochford’s madness. While Gregory renders Lady Rochford with great emotion, and Anne of Cleves with sympathy, her most captivating portrayal is Katherine, the clever yet naïve 16th-century adolescent counting her gowns and trinkets. Male characters are not nearly as endearing. Gregory’s accounts of events are accurate enough to be persuasive, her characterizations modern enough to be convincing. Rich in intrigue and irony, this is a tale where readers will already know who was divorced, beheaded or survived, but will savor Gregory’s sharp staging of how and why. (Dec. 5)

Look, Mom, Look’s Review:

This book turned out to be truly amazing.  I was a little worried at first that I would be lost because I hadn’t read “The Other Boleyn Girl” (which was the previous book by this author).  However, I need not have worried.  The author gave plenty of background information on each character at the beginning of the novel.  The writing was excellent.  Not too overwhelming with any “period” wording or enunciation.  You could identify with the author’s fine description of each character. 

I was torn between feeling empathy and hatred for Jane B.  I thought that Catherine was a total ditz and almost laughed when she met her fateful end with ignorance and disbelief.  I found Anne of Cleves to be intriguing and thoughtful.  King Henry…well, what can we say about this grotesque “man”.  He was just disgusting and insane with power.

I think that this book should be at the top of the list for a book club or just some Saturday Afternoon.  Don’t be deterred by it’s size.  It reads fast and easy.  The whole last half, I couldn’t put it down.
 

Responses to “The Boleyn Inheritance”:

thediaperdiaries Says:
August 8, 2007 at 5:54 pm e

I just finished this 500 page book in 5 days. That is how good I thought it was!

goodideamomma Says:
August 19, 2007 at 6:02 pm e

I too finished this book in record time. It was an easy read to me. Perhaps because I really love reading about royalty and all the scandals that go along with an inherited, priviledged life. It’s always fascinating when others’ lives are more twisted than my own!

Currently Under Construction!!! More to follow. 

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