Books and friends – perfect together

Image: Pinterest
Image: Pinterest

Some book clubs come and go, but mine has been around for sixteen years.  We started out as young mothers and have watched our babies grow and head off to college.  We used to meet late, after the babies went to bed.  Now we meet early so we can get to bed!

We’ve read a lot of books over the years.  Some of them were great and some were clunkers.  Sometimes we go off topic, and sometimes we go way off topic, but we always have fun.  We are a perfect combination of great friendship, laughter, support and a little bit of gossip and spice!

We started in 2001 with The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan and are still going strong.   Here’s a list of what we’ve read.  I think our selections follow a typical reading trend.  What have you read in your book club?


2001

The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan
While I Was Gone by Sue Miller
Girl with a Pearl Earring  by Tracy Chevalier – 5 star read
Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland
Fortune’s Daughter by Alice Hoffman

Girl with a Pearl Earring


2002

Sula by Toni Morrison
The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom
Follow Your Heart by Susanna Tamaro
The Bee Season by Myra Goldberg
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
The Dive from Clausen’s Pier by Ann Packer
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden


2003

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant – 5 star read
Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult
The Hours by Michael Cunningham
The Family Orchard by Nomi Eve
Five Finger Discount – A Crooked Family History by Helene Stapinski
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Gift from the Sea by Ann Morrow Lindbergh
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis – 5 star read

the-red-tent    the-lion-the-witch-and-the-wardrobe


2004

All He Ever Wanted by Anita Shreve
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown – 5 star read
Atonement by Ian McEwan – 5 star read
Princess:  A True Story of Life behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia by Jean P. Sasson
Back Roads by Tawni O’Dell
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
The Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty
Youngblood Hawke by Herman Wouk – 5 star read
The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

the-da-vinci-code     Youngblood Hawke pic


2005

Nickel and Dimed:  On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich
Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts
Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landuik
How to Be Good by Nick Hornby
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress by Susan Jane Gilman
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett – 5 star read
Remember Me by Trezza Azzopardi
Children of God by Mary Doria Russell

bel-canto


2006

White Oleander by Janet Fitch
Under the Banner of Heaven – A Story of Violent Faith by John Krakauer
A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian by Marina Lewycka
The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield
Little Children by Tom Perotta
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – 5 star read
Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver
The World to Come by Dara Horn
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards
The Optimist’s Daughter by Eudora Welty
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

the-kite-runner


2007

An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore
The Ha Ha by Dave King
Wicked by Gregory Maguire
The Keep by Jennifer Egan
Brick Lane by Monica Ali
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls – 5 star read
Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Black and White by Dani Shapiro

the-glass-castle


2008

Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz
Good Faith by Jane Smiley
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
The Double Bind by Chris Bahjalian
The Russian Concubine by Kate Furnivall
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer – 5 star read
First Mothers by Bonnie Angelo
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen – 5 star read
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
The Giver by Lois Lowrey – 5 star read

from Goodreads     sense-and-sensibility     the giver pic


2009

The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie
Peony in Love by Lisa See
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood – 5 star read
Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
The Shack by William P. Young
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
A Mercy by Toni Morrison
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith – 5 star read
A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton
The Twist in the Road by Rob Hanlon

the-blind-assassin     a-tree-grows-in-brooklyn


2010

The Soloist by Steve Lopez
The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walters
Straight Man by Richard Russo
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – 5 star read
Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
My Antonia by Willa Cather
Mennonite in a Little Black Dress – Rhoda Janzen
Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann – 5 star read
Game Change by John Heliemann/Mark Halperin
Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris

To Kill a Mockingbird pic     let-the-great-world-spin


2011

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier – 5 star read
The Hunger Games by Susanne Collins
The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
Room by Emma Donoghue
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey – 5 star read

rebecca     one-flew-over-the-cuckoos-nest


2012

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Little Bee by Chris Cleve
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
Loving Frank:  A Novel by Nancy Horan
The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – 5 star read
Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
We Hear the Dead by Diane Salerni
Defending Jacob by William Landay
A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote

Gone with the Wind book cover


2013

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones
Wonder by R. J. Palacio
The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
Mayflower – A Story of Courage, Community and War by Nathanial Philbrick


2014

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – 5 star read
Me Before You by JoJo Mayes
The Pieces We Keep by Kristina McMorris
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
The Caged Graves by Dianne Salerni – 5 star read
The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer – 5 star read
The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin
Mary Coin by Marisa Silver
The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs
All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner

the book thief pic     the caged graves pic     the interestings pic


2015

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
A Sudden Light by Garth Stein
The Dinner by Herman Koch
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott
Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett


2016

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
After You by Jojo Moyes
The Hours Count by Jillian Cantor
Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – 5 star read
Traveling Mercies – Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott

all the light we cannot see


2017

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant

 

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Echo Park by Michael Connelly

echo-park
Echo Park
by
Michael Connelly

Rating:4 book marks

When a serial killer agrees to confess to a string of murders, LAPD detective Harry Bosch may finally have an answer for Dan and Irene Gesto, whose daughter, Marie has been missing for thirteen years.  Bosch is never at rest until a case is solved, and ever since he came out of retirement, he’s been pulling the Gesto file regularly, hoping for a break.

Echo Park is the story of how Raynard Waits becomes the center of a high profile case, made conveniently public during a tight political race for Los Angeles District Attorney.  Harry Bosch is a guy who follows his own rules, but is true to his deep-seated drive to get the bad guys.  He maneuvers through city politics and other hidden agendas to nail Waits and whoever else may be responsible.

I jumped into this Bosch mystery series, knowing nothing about the main character.  In creating Bosch, Connelly was inspired by the 15th Century Dutch painter, Hieronymus Bosch, known for his paintings depicting sin, violence and hell.  Connelly fans have their pick of twenty-nine novels, many with Bosch as their main guy.  While it may be best to start at the beginning, I enjoyed this 2006 crime mystery very much.  It’s smartly written, with many well-defined characters, has a little bit of romance and not too much violence.  I always like reading about the battle between good and evil, particularly in combatting violence against women.  Connelly makes it clear which side he and Bosch are on.

I especially enjoyed getting to know Harry and his quirky nature.  As with many mysteries, we learn about area restaurant menus and what everyone eats.  And, although I’ve never driven through Los Angeles, I had fun reading about the different neighborhoods and got a realistic feel for how the action was unfolding.  Equally fun is the banter between Harry and his contacts across the city who help him uncover the facts – they’re often resistant at first because they know he’s a rule-bender – but they always come through for their friend.

Echo Park has many exciting twists and turns.  I’m not a trained mystery reader and prefer to have the story develop for me, without thinking too far ahead.  I was surprised more than once by plot and character shifts.  Connelly includes surprises to the very end that would satisfy even the seasoned mystery reader.

I recommend Echo Park to anyone who enjoys mysteries and likes to see justice served.

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Who’s That Indie Author? JD Estrada

Who's That Indie Author pic

jd-estrada

Author name:  JD Estrada

Genre:  Urban Fantasy, YA, poetry, Sci-Fi, Noir

Books:  I am the author of Only Human & Shadow of a Human (Books 1 and 2 of the Human Cycle), the Daydreams on the Sherbet Shore (a YA short story collection of independent short stories that take place in the world of Draem), Twenty Veinte (a bilingual collection including essays, poetry, and short stories), and 4 poetry collections: Between the Tides, Dark Strands, Captured Moments, and Pensando en Metáforas.

jd-estrada-books

Bio: JD Estrada is a Puerto Rican indie author who recently moved to the lovely state of Georgia. As a kid, he dreamed of being an inventor, he just never knew he would be just that and that he would do so using words. Fascinated by life and committed to capturing as many stories as possible, the main thing for Estrada is to push himself as a writer and create unique word adventures on his writer journey to connect with humans whilst exploring humanity and all its nuances.

Favorite thing about being a writer: All the people I’ve connected with around the world. It’s lovely to know I’m read in countries like Pakistan, India, Belarus, and so many others and that so many people want to share their stories as well as read mine.

Biggest challenge as an indie author: Having people give me a chance to be read, getting reviews, and sales are the three biggest challenges, although I think reviews is one of the biggest ones. I don’t pay for reviews or ads so I depend on people talking about me and my work. It’s lovely because it means that every time someone leaves a review, it’s because they really wanted to, but it’s still a big challenge.

Favorite book: The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman or the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. Very close would also be Dune by Frank Herbert.

Contact Information:
Blogspot – For Writing Out Loud
Twitter: @JDEstradawriter
Instagram: jdestradawriter
Facebook:  J. D. Estrada
Amazon author page
Goodreads author page

 

The Time Between by Karen White

the-time-between
The Time Between

by
Karen White

Rating:
3 book marks

Are sisters “forever” or can secrets can break the bond?  That’s the big question in Karen White’s story about two sets of sisters whose lives are divided by tragedy and broken dreams.  The Time Between traces the modern lives of Eleanor Murray and her wheelchair-bound sister Eve, whose life was forever changed because of a sisterly dare.  We meet the second set of sisters when Finn Beaufain, Eleanor’s daytime boss, hires her for a second job as companion to his elderly aunt, Helena Szarka.

The story takes place on the scenic Edisto Island in South Carolina, where Eleanor and Eve grew up and where Helena and her sister Bernadett followed their older sister Magda after World War II.  Eleanor is a young woman, trapped by guilt and obligation to care for Eve and their arthritic mother.  Her dream of studying piano at Julliard has been dashed and Eve’s husband Glen is a reminder of what could have been.

Helena does not want a companion.  At ninety years old, she is grieving Bernadett’s death and has little patience for Eleanor’s self-absorbed martyrdom.  Their shared love of music may bring them together, but family secrets on both sides block the way.  At Helen’s house, something is strange about the oil paintings that hang on her walls.  And Eleanor’s unspoken and painful thoughts trace back to Eve’s accident.  If only her father were still alive to guide her.

I enjoyed this story of family, mystery, and the parallel look at sisters, written from the surviving sisters’ varying points of view.  I also enjoyed the historical element, which describes the three Szarka sisters as young women during the German invasion of Hungary.  White’s vivid descriptions of Edisto make it easy to picture life on the island, a place that would be nice to visit.  Sweetgrass baskets sold by roadside locals fill Helena’s house and they take on special meaning when Helena enters a forbidden closed-off room at Luna Point.

Helena and Eve are different, but their similarities may be enough to help them understand the decisions they’ve made and see that there are indeed second chances, allowing them to break free from the time between.

The Time Between is a light story with thought provoking themes.  While its plot and characters are often predictable, White writes about many of my favorite subjects, family, relationships, and mysterious old houses with locked doors and forbidden rooms.

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Who’s That Indie Author? Nicholas Nash

Who's That Indie Author pic

the-girl-at-the-bar

Author name:  Nicholas Nash

Genre:  Mystery, Thriller, Fiction

Book:  THE GIRL AT THE BAR

Bio:  Nicholas Nash is the exciting new author of The Girl At The Bar, a psychological thriller about the mysterious disappearance of a brilliant cancer researcher and the quest to find what happened to her. Nicholas resides in the concrete jungle of Manhattan in New York City with his wife and three children. An accomplished finance professional, he has a passion for reading fiction and non-fiction books which inspired him to write an intriguing thriller. Nicholas hopes you enjoy his work. He can be reached at thegirlatthebar@gmail.com.

Favorite thing about being a writer:  Working at your own pace and interacting with readers.

Biggest challenge as an indie author:  Being good at marketing and promotion, in addition to being a good author. Wearing multiple hats basically and doing a good job in multiple roles to be able to get some success.

Favorite bookAtlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and The Prize by Daniel Yergin.

Contact Information:
Website: authornicholasnash.com (under construction)
Facebook: @AuthorNicholasNash
Instagram: NicholasNashAuthor
Goodreads
Amazon


Are you an indie author?  Do you want to build your indie author network? Why not get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author?

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details, and follow along on Book Club Mom to join the indie author community!

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That’s life! Books about life

Life has many ups and downs, but you can always count on a book to get you through the tougher days.  Heavy or light, fiction or nonfiction, there is no shortage of books on the subject!


Books with the word “life” in the title:

Archie The Married Life
Archie – The Married Life Book 2
by Paul Kupperberg
:  Even comic book characters have challenges and Archie has his hands full with both Betty and Veronica!


Barbarian Days A Surfing Life
Barbarian Days:  A Surfing Life
by William Finnegan:  winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Biography, a self-portrait of a life-long surfer.


Dear Life coverDear Life by Alice Munro:  terrific collection of short fiction by one of the best.


life after life pic

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson:  One of the best books I’ve ever read, Atkinson looks at the what-ifs during the world-changing events of World War II.


Stll Life with Bread Crumbs
Still Life with Bread Crumbs
by Anna Quindlen:  Love enters the picture at all stages of life in this popular story.


The Secret Life of Walter Mitty new
“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”
by James Thurber:  A henpecked husband escapes into his own world in this Thurber classic.


The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace
The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace
by Jeff Hobbs:  an absorbing story about a super smart and caring guy from a poor neighborhood in New Jersey who just couldn’t make it work.


helen-keller-the-story-of-my-life
The Story of My Life
by Helen Keller:  Helen Keller lost her sight and hearing as a baby and overcame tremendous obstacles and became a well-known supporter of many causes.


Of course you don’t have to have the word “life” in the title to write about the subject.  Here are some notables from this year’s reading list:

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway:  Hemingway looks back on his days in Paris and his marriage to Hadley Richardson.

Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín:  A young Irish woman takes a chance on a better life in America after World War II.

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume:  a fictionalized depiction of life in 1950s Elizabeth, New Jersey when three planes crashed in their town.

My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout:  How do you put the hushed experiences of your childhood into words, and should you?

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie:  terrific semi-autobiographical story about a life of poverty on the Spokane Indian reservation.

The Beginner’s Goodbye by Anne Tyler:  Life changes in an instant when a man’s wife dies.  Will he get a chance to fix unreconciled conflicts in his marriage?

The Hours Count by Jillian Cantor:  great 1950s historical fiction about the lives of accused spies, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were the only civilian Americans to be killed for spying for the Russians.

Traveling Mercies – Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott:  an honest and often humorous memoir about finding faith.

We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas:  A family’s life is transformed after a loved-one’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler:  a solid reminder that successful people put in a lot of time at the bottom, before anyone knows about them.


Thanks for visiting – back to my book!

Currently reading The Time Between by Karen White

Top 5 posts in 2016

Truman Capote    writersworkshop.uiowa.edu 

Truman Capote, Charles Baxter, and Ethan Canin

Mary Gaitskill  Richard Bausch - from richardbausch.com

Mary Gaitskill and Richard Bausch


As a book blogger, you never know what posts are going to get a lot of views.  I don’t think about it too much, but it is fun to visit the stats page and see what people are reading.  Surprisingly, my top posts this year were all reviews of short fiction, not books!

  1. “House of Flowers” by Truman Capote
  2. “Gryphon” by Charles Baxter
  3. “The Year of Getting to Know Us” by Ethan Canin
  4. “The Girl on the Plane” by Mary Gaitskill
  5. “The Man Who Knew Belle Starr” by Richard Bausch

I love short fiction as much as books and all five authors have written novels as well.  Check out their Amazon pages here:

Truman Capote
Charles Baxter
Ethan Canin
Mary Gaitskill
Richard Bausch

I hope you all have a safe and Happy New Year!

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Thanks for visiting – come back soon!