About our Book Club

I am an avid reader who is part of a book club of 12 women who get together once a month at each others homes to discuss various books. We always have delicious food & wine and fabulous discussions! If you love to read then please take some time to peruse some of our book reviews, become a follower, add comments, suggestions or ratings and PLEASE share this blog with your friends too!

Nov 7, 2012

Tuesday's Child by Fern Michaels

Every year our Book Club takes a week end trip to a quaint little beach town where we rent a house by the shore and conduct our monthly book discussion outside by a roaring fireplace. It's a lovely time and I highly recommend this to all book clubs that have great friendships within their club. 

This month, Tuesday's Child was chosen because our September hostess wanted to pick a light summer read and something that matched our beach-y experience. This is a story about a murder, a conviction, an overturned conviction, romance and all the tales and intrigues that goes along with such a story. Also, a good portion of the story is set in Hawaii and the descriptions of this tropical land invoked daydreams of vacation in all of us.

The problem with the book is it wasn't very well written, even though the story would make for the perfect Hallmark movie. We all really wanted more from this author because it seemed like just when we began to get attached to a character or story line, it fell short and either just ended or took a twist that just didn't settle well with us. We all wanted to like it and hoped that it would somehow end and bring everything to full circle but it just never really accomplished that for us.

If it's a light summer read you are looking for or you love Hallmark movies then this will be an enjoyable book for you to read. Even though it wasn't our favorite we sure had a blast on our beach get away weekend and our hostess made a delicious dinner to match the Hawaiian theme of the story!

Appetizers: Hawaiian Meatballs
Dinner: Chicken Tortilla Soup, Salad and Corn Bread Casserole

Sep 5, 2012

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

Our friend who chose this book told us in advance to make sure that we took our time when reading it. She said we wanted to be sure not to have too many distractions around us so we could give our full attention to the story. I did just that and really enjoyed this book very much, as did almost everyone in our Book Club. 

This book is about the life of a very ordinary man named Tony that had extraordinary and complicated things happening all around him. Through the course of his life, which takes us from college to the present, we are introduced to several people who are part of his world and are privy to their relationships. There are definitely some instances in with these people that were emotional and filled with drama, but for the most part you feel like you are being allowed a glimpse into some one's life that has been put into a nutshell...until the end of the book, when it all comes tumbling out.

One thing we all agreed on was that this was the perfect Book Club book because we all saw this story in a different way. It's really quite remarkable how many different takes we all had on this novel. Not only did we feel differently about Tony throughout the book but we all had varying speculations on the ending. Once again, that's all I'm going to reveal to anyone reading this review so that I don't ruin anything for you. This book was also beautifully written, a true treat for the mind. We highly recommend it and hope you enjoy it!

Appetizers: Assorted Veggies (some grown in our hostess' garden!) Cheeses, etc...
Dinner: Broken Noodle Salad and Arugula, Goat Cheese and Watermelon Salad with a Balsamic Glaze
Dessert: Assorted Gelato and Cookies
Drinks: Wine, of course ;)

Jul 27, 2012

On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves

Our July book was On the Island by self published author Tracey Garvis Graves. This book was chosen because we wanted a light, summer-y pool book and that's exactly what we got. The majority of us read it in 1-2 days and it really was very hard to put down.
The story is about TJ and Anna who have the misfortune of being stranded on an island after a plane crash. It's a story about survival and complex relationships which is told from both TJ and Anna's points of view. The author flip flops chapters between Anna and TJ and I for one, loved this style because it allowed me to see what each person was thinking.
This was a truly enjoyable read even though it wasn't a literary masterpiece and everything seemed to always fall into place perfectly throughout the story, (not at all like the real world). We all decided we didn't want to pick this book apart and we loved it for what it was...a perfectly indulgent little Summer read that we all need now & then! Enjoy!

Appetizers- Pita chips & hummus and crudite
Dinner- Bbq chicken salad and veggie salad w/ garlic bread sticks
Dessert- Variety of decadent cupcakes
Drinks- Red and white wine

Jul 6, 2012

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is a mystical journey into the world of magic and illusion. The author is an expert writer and has the delightful power of painting the most beautiful scenes for us to enjoy with her choice of words. She is truly a master of writing in every sense. 

The plot is very intricate but it's based around Celia and Marco who at a very young age are selected to take part in a magical competition that is never clearly explained to them. What transpires is a circus of dreams that appears suddenly in different cities throughout the world and amazes the circus goers with illusions, magic and fantasy  that is beautifully put on paper for us to enjoy as well. They become star crossed lovers and it soon becomes clear that the circus has monumental, life altering powers. There are also many other memorable characters that we loved and hated which made the book even richer.

This book was not an easy read because of the intricacies of the plots and because of the descriptive writing however it was a book that demanded to be picked up any chance I had and when I did I was transported to this dark and mysterious world that I didn't want to leave. I could write a page alone on how beautifully Celia's magical ball gowns were described and I often re-read the parts three times because it was such a beautiful vision in my mind. There is a large clock located at the entrance of the circus called The Wunschtraum Clock, (directly translated from German as the Wish Dream Clock). The way the author so beautifully describes this clock and everything it can do is the stuff dreams are made of.

Our Book Club had some mixed reviews however....no one in our group really disliked the book, but it wasn't a favorite for some because they don't like circuses and magic. I daresay if one has a very logical mind then I can see how you couldn't just allow yourself to become lost in the fantasy of it all. There would probably always be that little voice of reason trying to rationalize what was just read and that could definitely be a distraction from becoming consumed and mesmerized by this tale.

Overall, I personally would recommend this book to someone who doesn't mind a book that takes some concentration and attention to detail and is able to just get lost in a tale of fantasy and magic and enjoy it for what it is, A Circus of Dreams.

Appetizers- Roasted Tomato Caprese and various cheeses, olives and crackers
Dinner- Shrimp & Orzo Salad & Mixed Greens with goat cheese, caramelized pecans, red pear and a balsamic glaze
Dessert- Assorted Gelato, Chocolate Hazlenut Biscotti & Mixed Berries
Drinks- Vino...of course

May 30, 2012

Defending Jacob by William Landay

It's interesting... I was just thinking that I always love the books we read, therefore my blogs all seem to be glowing. It's probably due to the fact that I love reading so much but more so, I think we just keep selecting amazing books!
Defending Jacob is no exception. I literally could not put this book down and when I absolutely had to, it called to me like some intoxicating elixir that was controlling my brain!

As with any really great book, I cannot go into too much detail or I will spoil the plot and twists for the reader. As a matter of fact, I find myself sitting here not really knowing what I can reveal without ruining things. I will say that William Landay's style of writing is phenomenal! The way he weaves this story together is truly wonderful, all the while inserting some dry humor when you least expect it. This is an engrossing read and will leave you asking some really tough questions about your own feelings and the thoughts and emotions of your own family.

We as a group loved this book and ended up having a wonderful discussion about it!
Please read this book, you will not be sorry!

Appetizers: Various  Delicious Tid Bits
Dinner: Chicken and Fruit Salad with a Yellow Curry Dressing
Dessert: Delicious Cake from Porto's Bakery in Glendale
Drinks: Red & White Wine

May 23, 2012

Lonesome Dove

Our April read was Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. This was our second verrrry long book this year with a whopping 800+ pages and just like the first one it did not disappoint. This book takes you on such a journey that it's really difficult to snap out of it once the book is finished. I had tears in my eyes when I was turning the last page, I just didn't want it to end.

Aside from the epic wild wild west the characters in this book are amazing. Captain Augustus McCray was our collective favorite. Every girl loves a great cowboy, and he does not let you down. He is as crusty as cowboys can get but he's also funny, loyal, witty and brave and will most certainly pop into our heads the next time we envision a cowboy from that era.
Lorena Wood was another character that we all loved. She was the town whore but with the typical "heart of gold" hiding in her VERY thick skin. Feisty and beautiful we enjoyed any parts of the book that she was in.
There are so many others that we either loved or hated but they are too many to mention one by one, but every one of them is memorable in their own way.

I think one thing that really gripped us all was how very difficult life was back then and how much strength and tenacity was needed just to drive a herd of cattle and horses across several states to find new land. It was unimaginable to us all as we sat in a beautiful living room, sipping our drinks and having a lovely discussion that there were so many dangers and so much that they had to live without in those times. Life was beyond simple, but also incredibly complicated.

Some of us had read this book several times over our lives and some of us rented the mini series after we were finished reading the book, which was really something to see these characters come to life. We really recommend this book, but make sure you have some time! One thing we all agreed on was you don't want to try to read this when you have a lot on your plate or a very hectic schedule...just wait until you have a few days to just relax and read. Yeeehaw!

Appetizers- various yummy items
Dinner- Chili and Corn Bread
Dessert- Texas Sheet Cake
Drinks- Wild Turkey Shots (optional) and White and Red Wine (for the City Slickers)

Apr 5, 2012

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

       One of our members wisely selected this book as our monthly read since the movie came out in the same month. It's not often that you read a book and see the brand new film right afterwards, so it made this month a really special experience!

       The Hunger Games is the first book in a trilogy of books written by, (yet another brilliant mom), Suzanne Collins. I always feel a little strange when people ask me what the book is about and perhaps you can understand why. It's about 12 selected children from different Districts that are sent out into a brutal wilderness arena of sorts and have to hunt and kill each other until there is only one left standing. Not the stuff fairy tales are made of to be sure, however The Hunger Games is one of those books that you just cannot put down. It sucks you in and is so riveting that many of us finished this book in one to three days. That being said, we did have several discussions about the morbid nature of this book and the film and why we think this is something that we want our young people reading. As much as I personally enjoyed the book, there is something to be said about where to draw the line when it comes to our children. I feel a tad guilty that it never even crossed my mind to feel shocked and appalled that these were children participating in the games, I just allowed myself to be swallowed up by the adventure of it all.

       For the most part we collectively loved this book and many of us went on to read the second and third books immediately afterwards so that it just became one giant story that flowed together into a riveting adventure. The heroine Katniss is a strong female figure which seems to be more appealing these days than delicate little flowers so we really enjoyed her along with several other characters. Of course I would be remiss not to mention the inevitable love triangle that is also part of this book and the series. I think this really appeals to the younger female readers but it didn't seems to bother my thirteen year old nephew who said these were his favorite books of all time!

Appetizers- Goat Cheese with Fresh Basil, Sun dried Tomatoes and Olives
Dinner- Spicy Beef & Barley Soup, Salad and District 12 rolls with District 1 bread (you will just have to read the book)!
Dessert- Fresh Berries with whipped cream and assorted pastries
Drinks- Effie cocktails, (Effie is a character in the book), red and white wine and cappuccino

Feb 17, 2012

Forever is Over by Calvin Wade

 Let me just start by saying that this book comes with a warning....it is 618 pages long! Yes, you heard me correctly...here is how this book was picked. 
It was my month to select a book, I did research and found that Forever is Over by Calvin Wade came with VERY high reviews. I tried valiantly to upload it on my Kindle, but it wasn't yet available on Kindle so I ordered the book on Amazon, (still unaware of how long it was). When the 90 lb. "brick" was dropped off at my doorstep a few days later I soon realized that this would probably NOT be our February book due to it's girth and the simple fact that I didn't want to be lynched by my fellow Book Clubbers. I decided that since I bought it, I would at least give it a chance and begin reading. I figured that I would probably be immediately bored to tears and justifiably throw it in the "round file" or donate it to our local library, however 5 days, a box of Kleenex and 618 pages later I was smitten.
I am both happy and relieved to say that most of us felt the same way about the book and I will not be disowned. About half of us thought the book could have been condensed a bit to lessen the length, while the other half enjoyed every little detail and thought it was OK. Since the book is so long a few of us had difficulty finding the time to devote to the book due to work and family situations so we also agreed that this book should be read when you know you will have the time to read it.
It's a journey through the life of Richie Billingham and the people he is close to.  I really hate to spoil stories and I don't want to give a lot of details re: content. I really try to let the reader's journey be their own without a lot of preconceived notions to set the tone in advance however, I will say that this book is written in a very clever way. The story is told from the perspective of several different people and sometimes a certain event or incident will be re told by 3 to 4 people so each time you are able to see the event from a different set of eyes. It's very interesting to experience this author's writing style. We also felt like this book was easy to read and there are many laughs throughout. 
We loved this book that focuses on life, love and precious time and do recommend it to all of you. Happy Reading!

Appetizers: Mozarella Caprese and Olive Tepanade
Dinner: Homemade Lasagna
Dessert: Lemon Tart with Fresh Blueberries, Lemon Curd and Whipped Cream
Wine: Pinot Noir and Syrah

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

This was our January 2012 book and it was wonderful! Many of us are animal lovers and so we could really relate to this book and it's unique style of being written by the dog, Enzo.
This is a story about a man named Denny who is a race car driver and the hardships that he must endure during the time he was Enzo's owner. I don't want to give any of the story away to a prospective reader but I can tell you that it's about perseverance, courage and strength and it will leave you with a whole new way you might look at your pets in the future!
As in many books written about dogs lately, it does take place during Enzo's life, so we can assume already that tears will fall! Please don't let this discourage you from reading it. Truth be told, I would have read this book over a year ago but my hesitance to read anything that may be sad about a dog stopped me. I am glad it was our January pick and we all highly recommend it to you as well!

Note- I thought it might be fun to start mentioning at the bottom of each review what we had for dinner...I mean we all love food and this could give you some good ideas for your next get together!!

Appetizer: Quiche Dip
Main Course: Penne with Truffle Butter and Parmesan Cheese (Deeelish!)
Dessert: Chocolate Macaroon Cake with Cream
Wine: Red, White and Port