I don’t know if you remember but last July I made a list of things to do or try in the days leading up to my birthday. Some of the items on the lists were touristy like things here in KC. Some were things that I said I would do and never did. One of these was to join a book club.
So…I did. The book club reads a different book each month then meets the first of the next month to discuss. I had full intention of reporting that first meeting since it was part of my “30 by the 30th” series but never did. Each month I said that I would catch up. Still no.
It’s a new year though. So let’s do this!
First a recap of the 6 books we read in 2017.
July – Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
I’ll admit this is not a book that I would have normally chosen for myself. If not for the book club, I wouldn’t have read it. I’m glad I joined the book club. =) The writing style was not one that I had seen before. Instead of chapters, many of the pages were memos or emails between various characters. It made for a quick read.
“Bernadette Fox has vanished.
When her daughter Bee claims a family trip to Antarctica as a reward for perfect grades, Bernadette, a fiercely intelligent shut-in, throws herself into preparations for the trip. But worn down by years of trying to live the Seattle life she never wanted, Ms. Fox is on the brink of a meltdown. And after a school fundraiser goes disastrously awry at her hands, she disappears, leaving her family to pick up the pieces.
Which is exactly what Bee does, weaving together an elaborate web of emails, invoices, and school memos that reveals a secret past Bernadette has been hiding for decades. Where’d You Go Bernadette is an ingenious and unabashedly entertaining novel about a family coming to terms with who they are, and the power of a daughter’s love for her mother.”
Recommendation – Read it!
August – The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
I loved this book! Though I had read it prior to the book club. About a year, maybe 2, yeah 2, before I learned of Liane Moriarty when I picked up her book Three Wishes at B&N. I loved it so much I went on to read all of her other books. All of them! I think at the time she had 6, now 7.
This is her latest book…
This is a book that you won’t be able to put down. That’s right, you will read it all in one sitting. It’s that good. The Husband’s Secret follows several characters whose lives are intertwined but don’t yet know it. You know something has happened but you aren’t quite sure what until the end. Then everything happens at once. Climax, climax, climax!
“At the heart of The Husband’s Secret is a letter that is not meant to be read…
My darling Cecilia,
If you’re reading this, then I’ve died…
Imagine your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not only the life you have built together, but the lives of others as well. And then imagine that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive…
Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything—and not just for her. There are other women who barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they, too, are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.”
Recommendation – Read it! Then follow it up with the rest of her books. Trust me!
September – The Nest by Cynthia D’ Aprix Sweeney
This was not one of my favorite books. I was forcing myself to finish the book in time for our meeting. However, about half way through it started getting better. By the end, I found myself enjoying it. The book was a slow starter to say the least but it won me over in the end.
“Every family has its problems. But even among the most troubled, the Plumb family stands out as spectacularly dysfunctional. Years of simmering tensions finally reach a breaking point on an unseasonably cold afternoon in New York City as Melody, Beatrice, and Jack Plumb gather to confront their charismatic and reckless older brother, Leo, freshly released from rehab. Months earlier, an inebriated Leo got behind the wheel of a car with a nineteen-year-old waitress as his passenger. The ensuing accident has endangered the Plumbs’ joint trust fund, “The Nest,” which they are months away from finally receiving. Meant by their deceased father to be a modest mid-life supplement, the Plumb siblings have watched The Nest’s value soar along with the stock market and have been counting on the money to solve a number of self-inflicted problems.
Melody, a wife and mother in an upscale suburb, has an unwieldy mortgage and looming college tuition for her twin teenage daughters. Jack, an antiques dealer, has secretly borrowed against the beach cottage he shares with his husband, Walker, to keep his store open. And Bea, a once-promising short-story writer, just can’t seem to finish her overdue novel. Can Leo rescue his siblings and, by extension, the people they love? Or will everyone need to reimagine the futures they’ve envisioned? Brought together as never before, Leo, Melody, Jack, and Beatrice must grapple with old resentments, present-day truths, and the significant emotional and financial toll of the accident, as well as finally acknowledge the choices they have made in their own lives.
This is a story about the power of family, the possibilities of friendship, the ways we depend upon one another and the ways we let one another down. In this tender, entertaining, and deftly written debut, Sweeney brings a remarkable cast of characters to life to illuminate what money does to relationships, what happens to our ambitions over the course of time, and the fraught yet unbreakable ties we share with those we love.”
Recommendation – Give it a chance. Maybe it will grow on you as it did with me.
October – A Game For All The Family by Sophie Hannah
This book was the exact opposite than the last book. I started out liking it but ended with just wanting to be done with it. The book reminded me of a bad Hallmark movie that you watch on a lazy weekend when you are bored and can’t find anything else to watch on tv. Yeah, it was that bad.
“Pulled into a deadly game of deception, secrets, and lies, a woman must find the truth in order to defeat a mysterious opponent, protect her daughter, and save her own life in this dazzling standalone psychological thriller with an unforgettable ending from the New York Times bestselling author of Woman with a Secret and The Monogram Murders.
You thought you knew who you were. A stranger knows better.
You’ve left the city—and the career that nearly destroyed you—for a fresh start on the coast. But trouble begins when your daughter withdraws, after her new best friend, George, is unfairly expelled from school.
You beg the principal to reconsider, only to be told that George hasn’t been expelled. Because there is, and was, no George.
Who is lying? Who is real? Who is in danger? Who is in control? As you search for answers, the anonymous calls begin—a stranger, who insists that you and she share a traumatic past and a guilty secret. And then the caller threatens your life. . . .
This is Justine’s story. This is Justine’s family. This is Justine’s game. But it could be yours.”
Recommendation – I say pass but everyone has their own opinion. I will say I was not alone in my dislike of the book at the book club meeting.
November – Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik
I loved this book! The book follows a group of women, who all live on the same street, over 40 years. You can imagine all that can happen in this span of time. There are good times and bad but the women stick together, mostly, and get through it all.
“The women of Freesia Court are convinced that there is nothing good coffee, delectable desserts, and a strong shoulder can’t fix. Laughter is the glue that holds them together—the foundation of a book group they call AHEB (Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons), an unofficial “club” that becomes much more. It becomes a lifeline. Holding on through forty eventful years, there’s Faith, a lonely mother of twins who harbors a terrible secret that has condemned her to living a lie; big, beautiful Audrey, the resident sex queen who knows that with good posture and an attitude you can get away with anything; Merit, the shy doctor’s wife with the face of an angel and the private hell of an abusive husband; Kari, a wise woman with a wonderful laugh who knows the greatest gifts appear after life’s fiercest storms; and finally, Slip, a tiny spitfire of a woman who isn’t afraid to look trouble straight in the eye.
This stalwart group of friends depicts a special slice of American life, of stay-at-home days and new careers, of children and grandchildren, of bold beginnings and second chances, in which the power of forgiveness, understanding, and the perfectly timed giggle fit is the CPR that mends broken hearts and shattered dreams.”
Recommendation – Must read! You won’t regret it!!
December – The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman
I was hugely disappointed in last month’s book. First of all, it wasn’t even a book. It was a novella. If you can even call it that. So I’m one who likes to own my books. I don’t use an e-reader. I like to carry a book in my purse at all times. Yes, my purse gets heavy but without my book, I feel like I’m missing something. When I went to B&N to purchase this book, I learned of how short it was – 65 pages. I thought it was a mistake. Surely my beloved book club didn’t choose such a short book. It was not. This was the correct book. I was not a happy camper. Somehow I missed at the meeting that they were wanting a shorter book due to the holidays.
Since this book was a Christmas novella, it had the price to go with it – $18. I refused to pay $18 for 65 pages. So glad that I did to because not only was the story (yes, story, because it is hardly a book) not enjoyable but there was a picture on every other page. Yep, not even 65 pages of reading! Fail! I was fortunate to find the book at a library. Otherwise, I may have had to skip this month’s meeting.
“It all begins with a father telling a story to his son on Christmas Eve. But this isn’t your typical Christmas story. The father admits to his son that he’s taken a life but he won’t say whose—not yet.
One week earlier, in a hospital late at night, the man met a five-year-old girl with cancer. She’s a smart kid—smart enough to know that she won’t beat cancer by drawing with crayons all day, but it seems to make the adults happy, so she keeps doing it.
As the man tells his son about this plucky little girl, he slowly reveals more about himself: while he may be a successful businessman, idolized by the media and his peers, he knows he failed as a parent. Overwhelmed by the responsibility of fatherhood, he took the easy way out and left his wife and little boy twenty years ago to pursue professional success. Now he is left wondering if it’s too late to forge a relationship with his son, who seems to be his opposite in every way—prizing happiness over money, surrounded by loving friends in a cozy town where he feels right at home.
Face to face with the idea that something is missing, the man is given the unexpected chance to do something selfless that could change the destiny of the little girl in the hospital bed. But before he can make the deal of a lifetime, he needs to find out what his own life has actually been worth in the eyes of his son. And so, he seeks him out and tells him this story…
Written with Fredrik Backman’s signature humor, compassion, and “knack for weaving tales that are believable and fanciful” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch), The Deal of a Lifetime reminds us that life is a fleeting gift, and our only legacy is how we share that gift with those we love.”
Recommendation – Pass! Although I have heard that the author is good. I may try one of his other books.
Ok, you all are caught up now. Sorry this is such a long post. It happens when you have months to catch up on. January’s book is The Memory Box by Eva Lesko Natiello. This one was suggested my yours truly. I hope it’s a good one!