Thursday, January 19, 2023

The Readers -- January 19, 2023

The Readers Book Club began their year with The Lager Queen of Minnesota, by J. Ryan Stradal. The book received high ratings on Goodreads and Amazon (4.01 and 4.3, respectively), but The Readers disagreed and only rated the book a whopping 2.25 stars out of 5.

The Lager Queen of Minnesota follows the lives of two sisters, Helen and Edith, who have been estranged for the better part of their lives. Edith, the older of the two, is the quintessential grandma, raising her only granddaughter, Diana. Helen, on the other hand, had few likable characteristics throughout the entire story. The group found the book long and tedious, with all of its detailed descriptions of brewing. They also felt that too many characters were introduced, leaving the group not really caring about most of them. Many of the plotlines were irrelevant and the ending left the readers with a feeling of "That was it?" 

There were some positives in The Lager Queen of Minnesota, however. For example, Edith and Diana are fantastic characters who would make for good neighbors, and the way they continue to persevere through life's ups and downs is admirable. Edith makes a lot of friends during her many hard-working years, and they all come through for her in the end. The book did make for a fun discussion, though, and one of the points of a book discussion is to read outside of one's comfort zone. The Readers are chalking the whole experience up to a win!

Monday, January 16, 2023

Night Owls -- January 9, 2023

To start out the new reading year, the Night Owls chose the humorous, yet educational nonfiction title Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? by Caitlin Doughty. The book is primarily comprised of Doughty, a mortician, answering several questions often posed to her by children during talks she has given all around the world. She claims that in her experience, children are much more direct and inquisitive when asking about death, and this book is a clear example of those imaginative inquiries. 

The biggest highlight of the book for all members was the author's humor when explaining her answers to such burning questions as:

·  Can we give Grandma a Viking funeral?

·  What would happen if you died on a plane? 

·  Can I be buried in the same grave as my hamster?

·  Will I poop when I die?

While Doughty uses levity to discuss what is often perceived as a difficult topic, members felt that she did so in a frank, but respectful manner. Without the humor, the book would have been a much more somber read and less engaging and entertaining for readers. For members who listened to the audiobook, they felt the author's narration only made the book that much more enjoyable and recommended it as the preferred format for experiencing the book. However, as Doughty is a trained mortician she does not shy away from using proper terminology or sugar-coat the less savory details of what happens to one's body after death. While never salacious or overly graphic, members felt that this would not be a recommendation to those they know to be squeamish over such topics. 

Overall, the book was greatly received by members and gave the book a highly favorable 4 out of 5 star rating. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Questers -- January 11, 2023


For the first Questers book discussion of 2023, we read Forgotten Bookmarks by Michael Popek. It’s a nonfiction book that a reader probably wouldn’t read cover to cover, but it provided a nice, relaxing read during what is usually a hectic December for our club members.

Michael Popek is a used bookstore owner. He noticed that as he received books that had been donated, he often found items such as bookmarks, notes, letters, and pictures that belonged to the previous owners. Some of these items were striking, transporting him to a time and place otherwise unknown, but giving him a glimpse into someone’s most poignant moments. Other items include recipes, letters to home from a World War II soldier, sheet music with notes written in pencil, and photographs that leave the story up to the reader to imagine. Popek began collecting these items, and soon realized he had the makings of a very unique book.

The Questers gave the book 2.9 stars out of 5. We all agreed it was a quick and relaxing read for the holiday season, but not something that required a lot of analysis. If you like books that help you gain insight into another person’s struggles or joys, this gives you a very quick peak, but leaves you wondering how the subjects of these unique finds continued their journey.

Monday, January 9, 2023

Once Upon a Crime -- January 3, 2023 Discussion

During our first  Once Upon a Crime book discussion club meeting on January 3, we opened up the year talking about An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed by Helene Tursten. This is book two in a series, following up the 2018 release of An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good. The club read the first book in 2022 and found it borderline funny, yet unbelievable. We were willing to give the series another try with a fresh title.

In this second book, Maud is 88 and comes across as a sweet "lady", but don't cross her or you could end up dead! She acts innocent, but is very sneaky and because of her age, no one considers her dangerous. When confronted about her involvement in a crime, she acts as though she's hard of hearing when questioned and walks with a cane, but the reader is left to figure out if this is all an act or if the police are barking up the wrong tree. 

As a group we found the storyline unique in the fact that the suspects in our books are not usually little old ladies. We gave the book a 4.5 star rating out of 5 stars because it's definitely a book we couldn't put down!

Clubbing in February -- Part 2

The Questers discussed Only the Beautiful by Susan Meissner in February. The book is set between 1938 and 1947 with the earlier years focu...