Friday Morning Bookclub

September 12, 2016

Who Doesn’t Love a Good Audio Book?? The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson

Everyone dreams. Some of us remember our dreams, others do not. But what happens when your dreams seem so real that you no longer are sure what is real and what is the result of an overactive imagination?

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When Kitty opened her eyes and looked around the sage green bedroom, she had no idea where she was. The last thing she remembered was painting her bedroom a sunny yellow. This bedroom had beautiful coordinating bedding, nothing like the mismatched sheets and blankets she was accustomed to. Surely this was a dream and if she closed her eyes she would soon find herself in some other imaginary place.

But the gentle touch of a hand on her shoulder and the sound of a strange male voice told her otherwise. Someone was waking her up. Someone was calling her Katharyn.”Get up Katharyn love, your daughter needs you.”

Her daughter? Kitty Miller did not have any children. Nor was she married. But this was only a dream, and a pleasant dream at that. Why not go along? What choice did she have? She got up and walked down the hall to find her imaginary daughter, a daughter named Missy who apparently needed her. In real life Kitty did not know the first thing about taking care of a child, but in this dream world Katharyn knew exactly what to do. In this dream world she was called Mommy.

And then as quickly as it began, the dream was over. Kitty was back in her sunny yellow room. But unlike her typical dreams, this had felt real and she liked this dream world of hers. What was not to like? The Katharyn of her dreams had a beautiful house, a loving husband and children. She had everything 38 year old Kitty had ever wanted.

But when the dreams began to return and time after time, Kitty found herself living in this alternative life, it became even more confusing. Was she Kitty, or was she Katharyn? Did she own a book store or was she a stay at home mother with a handsome husband and children. Neither Kitty or Katharyn’s lives were perfect. Neither were without their heartbreaks and challenges. Could she choose which life was real? And if so which would you choose?

The Bookseller will keep you guessing until the last moment. It is a thoroughly entertaining read and a wonderful audio book!

Do you listen to audio books? Are there any you would like to recommend?

September 28, 2014

Summer Island By Kristin Hannah……….Entertaining and Though Provoking!

Filed under: Kristin Hannah,Summer Island — susanbright @ 6:37 pm
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Summer Island

Nora Bridge was famous. She had her own talk show and advice column. On the outside she had it all together, but nothing could be further from the truth. Years earlier, Nora had walked away from her husband and daughters Ruby and Caroline.Nora’s relationship with Carolyn was strained and her relationship with her youngest child Ruby was non-existent.

Ruby,a struggling comedienne wanted nothing to do with her mother.That is, until the Nora Bridge scandal broke out and Ruby was offered the opportunity to cash in on it and tell all.  And then Nora was injured in an accident, and needed someone to help care for her. Ruby was the obvious choice as she had no husband, job or children to hold her back. For once things seemed to be falling into place for her. Finally Ruby could get back at the mother who had abandoned her years before and make money in the process.

But things are never as they seem and the more time Ruby spent with her mother at the family home on Summer Island, the more she realized how little she actually knew about her mother and the events leading up to her leaving their family. Together Nora, Ruby and finally Caroline revisit the demons of their past.

Summer Island was a thoughtful account of one families struggle to deal with the past and create a healthy future.Once more Kristin Hannah has written a touching story and one with a wonderful message about love, family and forgiveness.

We all make mistakes and although it may not be possible to change the past, take back the ugly words we spouted at someone we love or unring a bell, it is possible to make amends and move on. But first we have to learn to not only forgive others, but forgive ourselves. Sometimes a book just gets to you. Summer Island sure got to me!

A four omelet audio book

Summer Island Quotes by Kristin Hannah – Goodreads

April 6, 2014

Playaways Are The Best! The Silent Wife By A.S.A Harrison…Another Entertaining Audio Book!

silentPlayaways have become my best friend. They accompany me wherever I go. They are a multi tasker’s dream. Life has been hectic lately and by the time I settle down in the evening I have been too tired to pick up a book. No matter how busy or how tired I am there is always time to listen to a book and playaways make it so easy to do. Do I sound like an advertisement?

The Silent Wife is a “he said, she said” book. In this case the titles of the chapters alternate between Him and Her. Him is 40 some year old Todd, Her is 40 some year old Jodi.

The couple met  twenty years earlier in a most unusual way. In fact the first words out of Todd’s mouth after his car clipped the side of Jodi’s rented van was “You crazy bitch”. Perhaps that was an omen as to what was to be, but the couple began to date, fell in love and although they never officially married had been living together ever since. Jodi, a therapist was content with her life. She knew that Todd had been unfaithful at times, but was willing to over look it. She enjoyed getting up in the morning, walking their golden retriever and preparing gourmet meals for Todd. Things were not perfect but Jodi was ok with that. But when Todd falls in love with a younger woman and Jodi’s whole life as she knows it is threatened, Jodi is driven to do things even she did not know she as capable of.

At only 8 hours,The Silent Wife will not disappoint. Somewhat like a short, less convoluted  Gone Girl, The Silent Wife is a quick, fun thriller. Perfect for those who need to be doing something as they go about their day.

A 3 omelet book

March 27, 2014

Touch & Go By Lisa Gardner…..Sheer Entertainment!

Touch And Go was just what I needed. Exciting from beginning to end!

touch Although Libby and Justin Denbes appeared to have it all, their marriage was in trouble. Justin had been having an affair with a younger woman and Libby knew all about it. Libby, the product of a broken marriage wanted more for her teen age daughter and was willing to try to forgive and work things out. It was date night, and after a somewhat awkward dinner the couple returned to their beautiful home in a prestigious Boston neighborhood to find their house unlocked and unarmed. Had their daughter Ashlyn forgotten to put the alarm on again,something she had been warned about numerous times? Unfortunately it was something much more sinister.

When investigator Tess Leone arrived at the Denbes’ home she found signs of a struggle, taser confetti and a pool of vomit. What she didn’t find were the Denbes. How could an entire family disappear and why? Was it something to do with Justin’s multi million dollar company or was it something much more personal?

The dynamics of the Denbes’ family was fascinating as every one of them had secrets, and Tess Leone  had an interesting background as well. Sometimes I forget how much I enjoy a good old fashion mystery. Touch and Go was exciting, full of twists and turns and kept me guessing  up until the very end.

The audio book was read by Elizabeth Rodgers, and although I found the Boston/ northern accents a little strange (what do I know). I quickly adapted to them.  The 15 hours flew by and I plan to head to the library as soon as possible to pick up another playaway. I hate to be without one!

A 4 Omelet audio book!

 

March 15, 2014

You Can’t Help But Enjoy This Book: Orphan Train By Christina Baker Kline

orphanOrphan Train is one of those books you can read over a weekend. I found myself totally caught up in the intertwining stories of Molly and Vivian. Seventeen year old Molly was a foster child, had been bounced around from family to family and was used to disappointment.  In fact, when things did go right in her life, she had no idea how to handle it. At such a young age she had already figured out that it was better to be perceived as tough and weird than weak and vulnerable.

When once again, Molly found herself in trouble, her foster-mother, Dina was not at all surprised.  Dina was always finding fault in Molly, considered her untrustworthy and was just waiting for Molly to slip up. This time Molly had tried to steal an old ragged copy of Jane Eyre from the library.  Molly had wanted this book more than anything and was too shy to ask the clerk at the local book store to order it for her. The library had several other newer copies so who would ever miss it? Of course Molly was caught trying to sneak it out and it was either off to juvie or community service for her.

Molly removed her nose ring, put on borrowed clothing and reported to the home of 91-year-old Vivian where she would complete her 40 hours of community service. Just what Molly wanted to do….clean up some old ladies attic.  Although she did not realize it at the time, this assignment was going to be one of the best things that had ever happened to Molly. These two women  had more in common than anyone would have guessed. When Vivian was a young girl she too had lost both her parents.  Little by little, box by box Vivian shares her story of how she arrived in Minnesota via an Orphan Train.

Orphan Train  is a beautiful and inspiring story and I fell in love with both Molly and Vivian. Christina Baker Kline does a wonderful job of weaving these two very different, yet similar stories. The comparison between our modern-day foster system and the supervised welfare program called The Orphan Train Movement was fascinating.  My only criticism is that it left me wanting more, and how can that be a bad thing? I want to know more about the Orphan Train Movement that transported over 250,000 homeless children from eastern cities to  the rural midwest between 1853 and  1929. I want to know more about a welfare program which allowed couples to pre-select children by filling out an order form and checking off the age, gender, and even such traits as hair color they desired.

Orphan Train is an excellent discussion book. Over coffee and eggs (although not necessarily omelets) we talked about Molly and Vivian’s plight which led to a thoughtful discussion of The Orphan Train Movement which was the predecessor to our modern-day foster system.Was it a good plan? How could it have been better? Orphan Train is a quick, easy read and more than anything piqued my interest.

I give Orphan Train 4 1/2 omelets! How about you?

December 10, 2013

The Husband’s Secret By Liane Moriarty: A Review By Nancy

Filed under: Book Discussions,The Husband's Secret — susanbright @ 8:26 am
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The Friday Morning Bookclub met to discuss The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty.  The book revolves mostly around the lives of 3 women and their families, the roads taken by the choices they and their spouses have made (whether in secret or not), fate, guilt, and the surprise conclusion if only other decisions/actions had been made/taken .
One of the joys of bookclub for me is that hearing other members speak about their thoughts and reactions can often make what I would consider a so-so read a more interesting one. I felt this way about this book.
We asked ourselves if we would open a letter from our husband specifically telling us not to unless he had died, discussed in our own lives what would have happened “if only” -was being delayed that 5 minutes  the reason the accident we just witnessed did not happen to us, the seeming randomness of fate.  We discussed what makes a good mother-in-law…lessons on what not to do are evidenced in the book, and we discussed what if anything should remain secret in a marriage…and the possibility that some of us may want to clean out our memorabilia before our children go looking….

Some of us were a little jaded with the morality of the sins of the father brought to bear on the daughter and the notion that the rosary bead connection was not explored by the police but overall the book was well received and engendered a lively thoughtful discussion.

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 And after the discussion, we had a holiday book exchange and everyone went home with something good to read!

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December 5, 2013

The Husband’s Secret By Liane Moriarty……In Three Words

husbandThe Husband’s Secret focuses on Three Different Women, Cecilia, Tess and Rachel, whose lives are intertwined in a most mysterious way. It is a story about Guilt, Grief and yes.. Secrets!

Here is what some of our bloggers have to say:

Life changing dilemma

Three alternating stories

Betrayal, Heartbreak, Thought-provoking

Men behaving badly

Real page turner

 

How would you describe The Husband’s Secret….In Three Words?

June 16, 2013

Me Before You: Some Thoughts From Carol

Filed under: Book Discussions,Me Before You — susanbright @ 5:18 pm
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Me befor you

I had a dream last night, a series of dreams actually, where I was a disembodied head hovering over a wheelchair. It was, undoubtedly, the result of reading Me Before You. I guess my mind was processing the quadriplegic experience. That was my unconscious mind. In my conscious mind, the phrase “Love each other or perish” kept popping up, over and over, so much so that I had to look up where the quote came from. The poet W.H. Auden said it. If it weren’t five words, I would have entered that in “Describe Me Before You in three words.” Love each other or perish.

The same theme was in Tuesdays With Morrie. That story was different yet similar. Morrie was an old man struggling with a progressive disease. Will was a young man struggling with a sudden accident. They both had to make huge accommodations in their lives. What they both are, are guides for the rest of us. What I learned from them (well, it greatly reinforced what I knew to be true) is this:

1.)    Unexpected things, good and bad, really do happen….and sad things do happen to good people.

2.)    Real intimacy (as in great friendships, great love) is the most important experience in your life.

3.)    Be grateful for everything good. Every mundane thing. The orthodox Jews say a prayer for everything, including using the bathroom. It’s something like, “Thank you, Lord, for letting my body work.”

4.)    Live with no regrets. Both Morrie and Will had interesting and purposeful lives. They worked hard to find work they loved and have experiences they wanted. They were active participants in life, not passive observers. At the end, they never had regrets of wasted time.

5.)    Learn from others. Let everyone teach you something, challenge you, inspire you, shake you out of complacency. Even strangers. Even people we don’t particularly like can be a type of teacher, if only to show us how not to behave. Just listen, observe, and learn.

We have the power to bring ourselves and one another joy or misery, companionship or loneliness, right up to the very end. Even though other critical themes come up in this story, like whose life is this any way, who has the right to make decisions for you and tell you what to do, the theme of intimacy is what resonated with me.

April 24, 2013

The Triple Agent: A Review By Bob

agentThis past Sunday, I went with my wife to The Friday Morning Bookclub’s annual  couple’s  pot luck dinner meeting and discussion. A good time was had by the 18 attendees. We reviewed The Triple Agent by Joby Warrick. It was a lively discussion with fervor and intensity as it was just days after the terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon and capture of the second perpetrator.
The book chronicles the events leading to the New Years eve 2009 suicide attack that killed nine CIA and FBI agents and two Afghani employees at Khost Military base in Afghanistan. The suicide bomber was a religious Jordanian physician/ zealot and Al-Qaida supporter recruited by Jordanian Intelligence and the CIA . The book is an easy read and very enlightening about our war against Al-Qaida.
Among the many comments there were the following conclusion that most agreed upon:
A religious zealot will never be converted
Mistakes were both made by CIA/FBI hierarchy and the inexperienced leadership at Camp Khost. Each group was so anxious to get what they felt was outstanding intelligence that normal safety protocols were abandoned.
Guarding against terrorist attacks has and will remain a way of life in our world.
Americans serving in the CIA, FBI and Military against the war on terrorism are extremely dedicated to their dangerous mission. They make numerous and tremendous sacrifices to protect our country and it’s citizens. We owe them a debt of gratitude.

I recommend the book and rate it a 4+

February 22, 2013

The Buddha In The Attic

Filed under: The Buddha In The Attic — susanbright @ 9:28 pm
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Bud playaway

The Buddha in the Attic was written by Julie Otsuka and is about a group of Japanese women who came to California in the 1900’s in hopes of a better life. They were called picture brides and each of them carried with them a photograph of their young handsome husband whom they had yet to meet.  Unbeknownst to them many of these photos were taken twenty some years earlier and held little resemblance to the men they had committed their lives to.

Some of us on the boat were from Kyoto…

Some of us were from Nara……

Some of us were farmer’s daughters from Yamaguchi….

Some of us were from a small mountain hamlet in Yamanashi……

We watch these women as they travel to America full of questions and dreams. As they meet their husbands for the first time and as they struggle with a new language and way of life.  As they toil in the fields, working from sunrise to sunset and as they raise children of their own. Their stories are fascinating and often heart breaking  and I found myself googling picture brides and reading whatever I could find on the subject.

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Unfortunately I found the audio book to be somewhat monotonous to listen to.  The Buddha In The Attic is written in the “first persons” if there is such a term and you do not get to know any of the characters individually, but only collectively. It often reads like a series of lists, an unusual style which just didn’t work for me.

We dreamed of new wooden sandals…..

We dreamed we were lovely and tall……

We dreamed we were back in the rice paddies…..

We dreamed of our older and prettier sisters….

The Buddha in the Attic was nominated for several awards including the National Book Award for Fiction (2011) and the Langum Prize for American Historical Fiction (2011). Although it was not one of my favorite audio books, it did open my eyes to something new and that is always a good thing. Perhaps this is one of those books better read than listened to.

Japanese Picture Brides: Building a Family through Photographs

The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka – Reviews, Discussion

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