Son by Lois Lowry wraps up The Giver Series

When my kids read The Giver in middle school, I read it too and once I finished book one in the series, I had to go right to the next two. I was excited when I heard that Lowry wrote Son (book 4) and enjoyed it very much. Here’s a review from my archives of Son, as well as links to the entire series.

Book Club Mom

Lois Lowry

4 book marks

I think this fourth book in The Giver series is very good, at its strongest in the parts titled Before and Between. I enjoyed the return to The Giver’s community, told through the perspective of Claire as a Birthmother. It is fun to meet Jonas, his father and Gabriel through her eyes.

I think Lowry does a great job building up suspense as Claire discovers her connection to Product #36 and starts to break the community’s rules. I like how Lowry uses the next community as a way for Claire to gain knowledge and strength in order to “climb out” and find Gabriel. Lowry makes an interesting comparison of the two communities, the second one being very rustic and using no technology. Everyone plays a role and makes a contribution in this fisherman’s community, but unlike The Giver’s community, it is free, full of love…

View original post 255 more words


How deep is your reading list?

Image: Pixabay

There’s something exciting about finishing a book and thinking about what to read next. I’ve gotten a little ahead of myself this month, though, because now I have a mini stack of books to be read. It’s not a bad problem to have. Even when I’m in a bit of a time crunch, I always relax while I’m reading. It’s my escape!

Here’s a peek at what’s coming up:

Last Stop in Brooklyn:  A Mary Handley Mystery by Lawrence H. Levy

I know this is going to be a fun read and I can’t wait to start. This is the third book in the Mary Handley historical mystery series, featuring New York’s first female detective. For all you NetGalley readers, Last Stop in Brooklyn is up and ready to go!

And if you want to start at the beginning, click on the links below to learn more about the first two books in the series:

Second Street Station
Brooklyn on Fire

Verdict of Twelve by Raymond Postgate

I read about this on Cleopatra Loves Books and knew I wanted to read it! Originally published in 1940, it’s part of the British Library Crime Classics collection and follows a jury’s intense deliberation. At 237 pages, it’s a shorter read, something good to read between the bigger books.

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

My ladies book club is reading this for our December meeting. This is another short one, published in 2016. It’s about a group of friends in 1970s Brooklyn and sounds great, perfect to read during the busy holiday season. We’ll be chatting about this one while we celebrate the holidays with our annual book exchange.

 Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate

You see a lot of books when you work in a library and this one caught my eye. It’s a Young Adult book about high school kids, friendship, scandals and lies. Redgate wrote this as a senior economics major at Kenyon College and it is her first novel.

 The Secrets of Wishtide by Kate Saunders

Our mystery book club at work has chosen this one for December, the first in `The Laetitia Rodd Mysteries’, six novels featuring a Victorian lady detective. Here’s what Amazon has to say:

The Secrets of Wishtide brings nineteenth century society vividly to life and illuminates the effect of Victorian morality on women’s lives. Introducing an irresistible new detective, the first book in the Laetitia Rodd Mystery series will enthrall and delight.”

David Bowie:  A Life by Dylan Jones

This biography came to me from NetGalley and I’m looking forward to it because of Bowie’s music and my high school memories, including one of my friend singing “Changes” in Algebra II and hanging out in the cool crowd’s “Bowie Room” one night.

I’m ready to go with this nice mix of books, including a couple to add to my New York Books list!

So what about you? What’s on your December list?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Little Bird of Heaven by Joyce Carol Oates

From the early archives: Little Bird of Heaven by Joyce Carol Oates.

I’ve always liked books by Joyce Carol Oates, but they are often intense like this one. I think she’s an excellent writer, always leaving me with a lot to think about.

Here’s one of my early reviews – my review style was a little different back then, but I think this review will give you a good idea about the book.

Book Club Mom

little bird
Little Bird of Heaven

Joyce Carol Oates

4 book marks

Joyce Carol Oates is an excellent writer and does a great job pulling you into this story of a murdered woman and two families that fall apart. I think she shows just how complicated and destructive family relationships can be. What I think is most interesting is how Oates’ main characters still cling to the idea of family, despite their estrangement.

I have seen criticism of her writing style, saying it’s too repetitive and rambling. In this story, I think maybe she’s trying to show the way her characters are processing their thoughts and trying to cope by repeating themselves, a very human behavior.

I was a little frustrated with the ending, not quite believing that Krissy would be satisfied with what is revealed. I also did not fully buy into the attraction between Krissy and Aaron.

This is not a…

View original post 81 more words

Friday Fiction – Launch – Chapter 3

Today I’m sharing Chapter 3 of Launch, an unpublished book I wrote a few years ago. A few weeks ago, we met Cindy Clarke and got a look at her life. She’s in the middle of a launch from stay-at-home mother to the working world. After meeting her husband Ted, we return to Cindy’s effort to redefine herself.

I hope you will take a look to see what happens and if you want to start at the beginning, click on the links at the bottom of this post


Launch – Chapter 3

It was four-thirty when Cindy walked into her house.  She felt an annoying flutter in her stomach.  Kevin and Katie were already home from school.  For years, she had planned her days around being home in time for the kids.  They needed her.  She’d cheer for them as they walked in the door.  “Hello!  How was school?”  Her afternoons had been chaos during those early years.  Kids blasting in, being loud, talking to her.  “Mommy, look what I did in school!”  She’d look at elementary school papers, crafts, smile, and congratulate their small selves.

And when only the older ones were in school, Katie and Kevin would be napping and the noise would wake them.  For years, endless years, frozen time, during the after school hour, the Clarke house had been a loud, exploding jumble of backpacks, lunch bags, homework folders, kids, shoes and crumpled art work.

Cindy loved seeing her kids come in that door.  It defined her, being home to greet them.  But she also knew what was on the other side of that momentary lift of seeing her children, home from their days out in the world, ready for nurturing, demanding attention.  Nurturing at that age was not all cuddles and sweet talk.  She could still do that with Katie and Kevin back then.  But for Teddy, Brian and Jessie, nurturing had become something else.  It was answering an explosion of questions.  “Mom, can I go over to Jack’s house to play basketball?”  “Mom, Teddy ate four cookies already.  That’s not fair!”  “Mommy, you said we were going to go out to Toys R Us after school today.  I want that new Barbie car.  Remember Mom?  Remember?” By then, Katie and Kevin would be awake from their naps, hanging on her, needing new diapers, asking for juice.

What followed was the marathon of getting dinner on the table.  Every action was interrupted.  So much physical work, movement, running up and down stairs, sending the older kids outside, but checking on them constantly (she couldn’t help herself), keeping Katie and Kevin occupied, usually with the TV, while she cooked.  All the while, watching the clock, waiting for Ted to come in so he could take over this insanity while she performed the miracle ritual of making dinner.  Cindy’s stomach would wind into tighter and tighter knots if Ted didn’t get home by a certain time.  She needed him.

And then, by the smallest measure of change, this period of time became something different.  Her kids grew.  They needed her less.  They talked less.  They became involved in their own lives.  She had still been there when they came in, greeted them in a cheerful “Hello!” but it was different.

Everything always changes.  Just when you master a certain phase in your life, the drivers shift.  What was once important disappears and it’s up to your confused self to figure out where you fit.  No one else seems to notice.  No one is there to tell you how things have changed.  It comes in pieces.  When your kids come in and say hi, then go up to their rooms, or engage themselves in PlayStation or their phones, then it’s up to you to redefine yourself.  No one is going to do it for you, but everyone expects you to handle the change, to make your new self happen.

Thank you for reading.

Click on the chapter links to start from the beginning:

Launch – Chapter 1
Launch – Chapter 2 Part 1
Launch – Chapter 2 Part 2

Copyright © 2017 by Book Club Mom

All rights reserved.  All material on this blog is the property of Book Club Mom. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Thanksgiving memories when you’re small

Gold Cuff bracelet pic

Gold Cuff Bracelet

Mom had a golf cuff bracelet and when she wore this bracelet I knew she was dressed to go out.  Something between everyday and fancy, it was a bracelet she’d wear to Thanksgiving dinner, or to a luncheon, or to her bridge club, with a straight skirt and sweater, or with a sleeveless wool dress.  It was the only bracelet I ever remember Mom wearing.  And wearing that bracelet was special to me because even though Mom was dressed up for an occasion, she was still accessible during these times.  Not so fancy that I couldn’t touch her, or sit on her lap and play with the bracelet as it circled her wrist.

Mom always took it off if I asked, which meant turning her wrist and pulling at the bracelet’s sides so she could squeeze her wrist through an opening which looked impossible to me and maybe even painful to her and then handing it to me.  I would slide it on my small arm and sometimes change the size which I did by squeezing the sides together and Mom would let me even if it changed the shape of the bracelet a little bit.  And I’d let it slip up and down my arm and imagine how a grown-up bracelet like that would look on me when I was just like Mom.

I have a cuff bracelet now.  It’s silver and it doesn’t look much like Mom’s.  But I have taken it off in the same way as she did, twisting my arm, feeling the straight edge push into the soft inside of my wrist, just as she must have felt.  And I have handed that bracelet to my own children who have asked to look at it and feel it in their hands and try it on even though they are boys, feel the warmth of the silver from my wearing it, just as I felt the warmth of my own mother’s bracelet as it circled my arm.  And I think there must be some kind of meaning behind this small, ordinary moment, a connection that tells me, yes, you are doing the things that your mother did because they are part of those comfortable, safe and familiar moments that link mother to child, generation to generation.

Thank you for reading.

Copyright © 2017 by Book Club Mom

All rights reserved.  All material on this blog is the property of Book Club Mom. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Image: Pixabay

Happy Thanksgiving!


Who’s That Indie Author? James J. Cudney


Author name:  James J. Cudney (Jay)

Genre:  Adult / Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Mystery & Suspense

Books:  Watching Glass Shatter (2017), Father Figure (2018)

Bio:  James is my given name; most call me Jay. I grew up on Long Island and currently live in New York City. I’m an avid genealogist (discovered 2K family members going back about 250 years) and cook (I find it so hard to follow a recipe). I love to read; between Goodreads and my blog, I have over 500 book reviews which will give you a full flavor for my voice and style. On my blog, I started the 365 Daily Challenge, where I post a word each day that has some meaning to me, then converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time.

My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, is an emotional rollercoaster about a family full of secrets. When the patriarch dies in a car accident, his widow Olivia, and their five adult sons must learn how to re-connect, except all the secrets stand in the way. It’s full of humor and tears, but you will find a whole new family to love when you take this book on.

Favorite thing about being a writer:  Being able to create characters and a plot that truly bring emotions to a reader, whether it’s tears, laughter, inspiration or fear. Knowing that I can share an idea that’s in my head, and seeing how it materializes for each distinct reader, brings me immense joy.

Biggest challenge as an indie author:  Convincing people to take a chance on reading your work when there are so many talented authors in the world. I try to build relationships rather than just ask someone to read my book; my available time becomes a challenge as building connections doesn’t happen overnight. I am committed to finding success by always being honest and sharing who I am, connecting with my readers as much as possible.

Favorite book:  It changes, but right now, Ken Follett’s Night Over Water

Contact Information:
Author Site:
Amazon Author Page:  James J. Cudney
Goodreads Author Page:  James J. Cudney

Awards/special recognition:  As an October 2017 debut author, I am just submitting my work for contests and awards. My book was written in for the Goodreads Debut Author Choice Awards by over a hundred people, which was heartwarming humbling. I hope to make a huge splash in 2018 as I begin marketing the first book, Watching Glass Shatter, and publish the second one, Father Figure.

Are you an indie author?  Do you want to build your indie author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

Email for a bio template and other details.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon

Something wild – arranging my books

I guess I could do it this way, but I think this would be hard to work with, don’t you? Image: Pixabay

It’s getting a little wild at my house and here’s why: I’ve been thinking about changing the way my books are arranged on my bookshelf. It all started when I pulled out the books I haven’t read yet, a sobering lesson on the dangers of hoarding. Those are now in an unattractive pile on the floor of our dining room and I’m feeling some family pressure to do something with them. Added to that are the books I bought last week at our library’s used book sale, a mish mash of story collections, cook books, and Spark Notes (for the English students at my house).

I’ve always lined my books up by author, fiction and nonfiction together, but I could do it like a library and move the nonfiction to a different spot, then split the rest by genre. Anyone do that? Seems pretty basic, though and maybe not wild enough.

But I’m also thinking about arranging them by region (remember my New York and New England booklists?) or making a pile of award-winning books. There are always one or two books you don’t know what to do with. I only have one graphic novel, so that will have to wait until I develop a taste for that genre before I start a section.

We’re low on marble sculptures. Maybe a craft from school? Image: Pixabay

I also noticed that some people make horizontal stacks in planned patterns – never thought to do that!  Any horizontal books on a shelf at my house are the result of rushing, not planning. I might try that because I think it looks nice. Other people add objets d’art between books. We’re low on those, but maybe I can use something one of the kids made in art class.

So big changes (haha) on the shelves over here, but I’m not stressing about my indecision. Half the fun will be figuring out what to do!

How do you arrange your shelves?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli

The Lotus Eaters
Tatjana Soli


In this historical fiction novel, Tatjana Soli paints a very detailed picture of Cambodia in South Vietnam from 1963 – 1975. The story revolves around Helen Adams, a young American photographer who travels to Cambodia in an effort to both prove herself as a woman in a male-dominated profession and to gain understanding of her brother’s recent death in combat. She immerses herself in her job and becomes enamored of the Vietnamese culture. That pull keeps her in Cambodia long after others leave. It wouldn’t be enough of a story without romance, so Soli adds the seasoned Sam Darrow, a self-absorbed Pulitzer Prize winner, and Linh, Darrow’s Vietnamese assistant.

Helen, Darrow and Linh join U.S. army troops on their missions to secure villages and they photograph the atrocities of the war. Their personal relationships grow and change, all the way to the final pages of the book.

I enjoyed this story, but Soli’s writing style is a little terse and that can get in the way of the flow of the novel. She is best at describing the scenery, the action and the historical backdrop. But the characters in this book are less developed.

I also found some of the scenes hard to believe, when troops are fired upon and Helen jumps into the action, the first to reach a wounded soldier, the one to wipe his brow and tell him he’s going to be okay. She’s up in helicopters, transport planes, doing the army crawl, crouch-running and rolling and jumping into bunkers, just as grenades and bombs explode. These scenes do provide excitement, however.

All in all, The Lotus Eaters is an enjoyable read, with an interesting historical backdrop.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Friday Fiction – Launch – Chapter 2 Part 2

Today I’m sharing the second half of Chapter 2 of Launch, an unpublished book I wrote a few years ago. Two weeks ago, we met Cindy Clarke and got a look at her life. She’s in the middle of a launch from stay-at-home mother to the working world. Last week, we met her husband Ted and got to see how things look from his point of view. He has a big work crisis at Spring Technologies and it looks as though his top programmer, Anders, has skipped town before an important deadline.

I hope you will take a look to see what happens and if you want to start at the beginning, click on the links at the bottom of this post. We begin as Ted’s boss, Steve, catches Ted in the office before he has a chance to sneak out.


Launch – Chapter 2 – Part 2

“Hey Steve!”  Ted smiled the broad smile that went with his greatest asset.  No need to show the boss that your department is crumbling.  “Just working hard, that’s all.  What’s up?”

“Well I just wanted to check in with you and make sure your team is all set for Monday.  How’s the demo going?  We want to make sure it’s all up and running for our meeting.”  Steven was an intense boss.  The kind of boss he’d had for his entire career.  Always asking how it was going, but never in a social way.  Always wanting to know just how long it would be before the next project would be finished.  It was part of the job, being accountable to your boss.  Ted accepted that and he usually met those deadlines on time.  It would be a small miracle if his team would be meeting Monday’s deadline.

“It’s all good, Steve.  The team’s working out a few glitches but we should be ready to go for the meeting.”  What a ridiculous lie!  Ted looked straight into Steve’s eyes when he said this, hoping to work some magic with his boss, hoping Steve wouldn’t detect the nervous twitch pulsing out of control under Ted’s eye.

Steve’s eyes drew into Ted’s face, in that way he had in looking for the true story underneath the spin.  His brows tightened in an intense focus.  “Well, can I see what you’ve got so far?  It would change the mood of my weekend if I could go home knowing what I’ll be showing Haskell and his group on Monday.”

Shit. Stay calm.  Think about how to answer.  “Let me talk to Wayne, see what he’s got for you to look at today.”

Steve’s focus didn’t let up.  “Where’s Anders?”

“I sent him out on an errand, to pick up the new Ethernet cables for next week.  He should be back late this afternoon.”  Ted hoped this quick lie would buy him time, but he worried.

“Hmm, well okay.  I’ll be here until 5:30, so send it up to me when you get it, okay Ted?”  Steve detected a problem.  He was certain something was up, but he wanted no part of it.  He wanted the demo and the less he knew about the problem the better.  It wasn’t up to him to solve the problems of the IT Department.  He’d joyfully shed himself of those worries when he’d been promoted to VP.  Let Ted sweat it out, whatever it was.  But Ted better damn well have a demo up in his office at 5:30, he was sure he made himself clear.

Ted and the IT team had an emergency meeting.  The department patched together a demo, but Ted knew it wasn’t what Steve wanted.  But maybe it was enough to buy him some time over the weekend.  They needed Anders.  Part of their program was missing and he was the key.  Ted couldn’t imagine why Anders had left, but he felt sure they were on their own.

“Here you go, Steve.”  Ted handed him a flash drive.  “It’s still a little rough, but it will give you an idea of what Haskell will see on Monday.”  Ted had groaned at the thought of working all weekend, but he knew he’d have his entire team, minus Anders, in the office for as long as it took, piecing together the parts that were hanging.

“Well, okay, thanks Ted.  I’ll look at it in a few minutes.”  Ted looked at the clock, hoping he could get out of there before Steve saw just how rough the demo was.  It wasn’t a tactic he liked, but he knew he was going to have to buy some time and he wasn’t going to get anywhere having to explain the situation to Steven Colby.  He had a feeling Steve didn’t want to know anyway.

Ted took a breath.  “Great!”  He didn’t know why he was saying great.  It was his instinct.  A small celebration for producing something for his boss, something he’d done countless times.  “I’ll have my team in here tomorrow, working out the kinks, Steve.”

“Okay, make sure you get Anders to run it a few times after everyone’s finished.  I want him to check it out thoroughly.  You know what they’re like over at Haskell.  We need to be sure it’s seamless.  They’re doing us a favor by coming here on Monday, so we’d better make sure everything works.”

“No problem, Steve.  I understand.  I’ll make sure it works.”

“I know where to find you if it doesn’t!”  Ted knew that Steve was only partly joking.  It was part of the corporate culture at Spring Technologies.  Even if it was outdated and cliché, the threat still held strong.

Thank you for reading.

Click on the chapter links to start from the beginning:

Launch – Chapter 1
Launch – Chapter 2 Part 1

Copyright © 2017 by Book Club Mom

All rights reserved.  All material on this blog is the property of Book Club Mom. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

What’s That Book? The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney


TitleThe Nest

Author:  Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

Genre: Fiction

Rating:  4 stars

What’s it about?  A dysfunctional group of middle-aged siblings who put the pressure on their charming but reckless brother to pay back a large sum of money from their inheritance. The story is set in New York and begins a few months before Leo, Jack, Bea and Melody Plumb are due to collect money from a trust (The Nest) their father set up years earlier before his death. Each had been counting on the money, which had grown substantially, but when Leo, drunk and high on cocaine, crashes his Porsche, their mother dips into the account to send Leo to rehab, pay off the young waitress in the passenger seat, and above all else, avoid scandal. Out of rehab, will Leo make good?

Leo, the oldest, made his money from a “literary” gossip magazine which helped propel their writer sister, Bea into fame. But Bea never got her long-expected novel off the ground and has been floundering ever since. Jack, always in Leo’s shadow, owns an antique shop, but he’s bad with money and has kept many financial secrets from his husband, Walker. And Melody wants desperately to send her twin daughters to college. She has scrimped and saved her entire adult life, but money is still tight. Secrets between the siblings and their spouses muddle up an already complex dynamic, heck to live through, but lots of fun to read about!

How did you hear about it?  Selected by my book club

Closing comments:  I loved this book. It’s a great balance between serious themes and entertaining plot lines. In particular, I love how the side characters develop and have their moments later in the story.

Contributor:  Ginette

whats-that-bookHave you read something good?  Want to talk about it?
Consider being a contributor to What’s That Book.

Email Book Club Mom at for information.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!