Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Young Soul Readers -- March 21, 2023

The Young Soul book club had a lively discussion about The Cabin by Natasha Preston. The book revolves around a group of seven older teenagers who set off for a weekend of partying and laughter at a secluded cabin, but are soon faced with unthinkable tragedy. When two of the friends are found brutally stabbed to death in the morning, the rest of the group is forced to face the fact that at least one of them is a murderer. The suspense builds as the lead detective seems content to wait for the suspects to turn on each other and make a mistake that reveals the culprit. Meanwhile, the two main characters, Mackenzie and Blake, are getting threatening text messages but are afraid to tell anyone because they don't know if they can trust anyone but each other as their feelings for each other develop into a romantic relationship. 

This discussion group liked the overall premise of the plot, but were generally disappointed in the writing style, which at times seemed contrived. There was a disconnect between the characters behaving like adults in their late twenties who were trying to solve a crime, and their dialog and narrated thoughts that were much less mature. Several members who were leaning toward a positive rating also expressed great disappointment in the ending, which led to a lower rating than they planned as they were reading the rest of the book. However, those who really enjoyed the suspense gave it a positive rating. The average rating of The Cabin for the Young Soul group was a 2.5 out of 5 stars. 

Monday, March 20, 2023

Once Upon a Crime -- March 7, 2023

The Once Upon a Crime book club met during March to discuss Who is Maud Dixon by Alexandra Andrews. The plot surrounds Florence Darrow, who is trying to become a writer without much luck. Her fortunes seem to change when she is called by a book agent and asked if she would be interested in being a secretary for an author who writes under the name Maud Dixon. She gladly takes the job, hoping this accomplished author can help her with her own writing, and shortly after finds herself leaving for Morocco with Helen-- Maud Dixon. 

Helen is running from police for a crime she committed years before and needs Florence's help, but Florence has no idea what she's in for. While traveling, they are in a car accident, which results in Florence's hospitalization. While in the hospital, she asks about Helen and learns that she was never found. Florence assumes her identity , as well as her own, until Helen returns. 

The book was well received by most book club members because of the flow and cliff hangers at the ends of the chapters. The many turn of events and surprise ending led to a respectable 3.85 rating from the group.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Night Owls -- March 13, 2023

For the month of March, the Night Owls read and discussed the supernatural novel The Green Mile by Stephen King. The novel centers around the fictional prison of Cold Mountain Penitentiary and the inmates sentenced to its death-row facility, The Green Mile. Told from the perspective of Paul Edgecomb, once the acting superintendent of The Green Mile, the story unfolds between past and present as Paul recounts the events of the year that John Coffey was sentenced to death-row and came to be under Paul’s watch. Originally conceived as a serial novel, The Green Mile was published in six monthly installments and then later collected and published as the complete serial novel.

Reading Stephen King has become somewhat of a yearly tradition for the Night Owls. While he may not be the author for everyone, it certainly does lead to some of the best group discussions we’ve had in the past, and The Green Mile was no exception. The group was evenly divided into those that just liked it and those who loved it. Common remarks in favor of the book were King’s writing style and his ability to craft such impactful passages that connect with readers. Oftentimes his writing can be quite visceral to readers especially with his imagery, but members did not feel it was gratuitous in The Green Mile when compared to his other books we have read. Members also enjoyed King’s willingness to explore and dissect the darker, uglier sides of human nature. Some of the less liked aspects of the book for some members were the sections that they felt meandered with no purpose or parts that felt repetitive, which could have been due to the original publication format of the novels. 

Overall, the book was favorably reviewed, receiving a whopping four five-star ratings from seven members and no less than a 3.5 from the remaining members, which landed it with an overall score of 4.3 stars. A highly recommended novel for fans of Stephen King or readers looking for a good entry point to the author’s prolific works.

Final Rating: 4.3
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ = It was amazing

⭐⭐⭐⭐ = Really liked it
⭐⭐⭐ = Liked it
⭐⭐ = It was ok
⭐ = Did not like it


Thursday, March 16, 2023

Readers Book Discussion -- March 15, 2023

The Readers had mixed reviews for A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash. It ended up with an overall rating of 3.36 stars out of a possible 5, but two members only gave the book a rating of 2, while two others rated it a 4.5. 

The story takes place in a poor town called Marshall, NC, which is not an easy place to call home. There is a small church in the town, led by the evil Pastor Chambliss. This character has a magnetic hold over his congregation, and one young mother in particular. This mother, Julie, has two sons. The older brother is called Stump, and is mute. The story is centered around him, and the pastor's attempt to heal him. 

The group had mixed feelings about the way the story was told, which was from the perspective of three different people involved. One story came from Adelaide, an elderly lady who feels it is her responsibility to protect the children from Pastor Chambliss. Stump's protective younger brother, Jess, is also a narrator. This adventurous and precocious young man was a refreshing and innocent voice. The group's favorite point of view, however, was the sheriff, Clem. He was not a native to the town, but was a no-nonsense character with a big heart. The author does a good job of making you care about the characters and also breaking your heart. In spite of the tragedies in the book, however, the ending is hopeful. It is a tale of courage and the power to overcome. 


Thursday, March 9, 2023

Questers -- March 8, 2023

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles follows two different timelines with the main character, Odile, linking 1939 Paris with 1983 Montana. As the Nazis enter and occupy France, Odile and her friends who work at the American Library in Paris must protect the books in the library and each other. The reader meets an eclectic group of employees, volunteers, and subscribers to the library who are all trying to survive their new normal where it’s unclear who can be trusted. Odile’s father and fiancĂ© are both French police officers who once proudly served and protected their citizens but are now thrust into the role the German occupiers force upon them, hunting down their Jewish neighbors and sending them to unthinkable fates. While Odile is determined to keep the library open throughout the war effort, the choices she and her coworkers must make come with grave consequences. Choices that once seemed obvious, moral, and ethical, are now a hazy shade of gray when faced with survival in a war torn country.

We meet Odile again approximately forty-five years later when her lonely teenage neighbor, Lily, befriends her and begins uncovering the layers of hurt and betrayal Odile has kept secret for decades. When Lily’s mother dies, she turns to Odile for comfort, but they soon discover they share a love of the French language and forge a deep friendship. Odile tries to guide Lily away from mistakes she made in her own teen years, mistakes that have had consequences lasting decades.

The novel contains romance, friendship, and heroism, but the Questers concluded it fell short developing those themes into a story that makes the reader really care about the characters. The characters themselves just were not interesting or exciting. However, the group did think the ethical questions that the novel evoked were interesting and could make comparisons between the choices the characters had to make and the choices we might have to make in our current times if faced with war. The Questers gave the book 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Overbooked -- March 6, 2023


For the month of March, the Overbooked members met to discuss the psychological thriller, The Talented Mr. Ripley, the first in the critically acclaimed Ripley series by Patricia Highsmith. The book centers around the titular character, Tom Ripley, who has mistakenly been hired by a wealthy businessman to travel to Italy and convince his gallivanting son, Richard (Dickie) Greenleaf, to return to New York and take a position within the family business. What begins as an amicable friendship between Tom and Dickie quickly devolves into one of mistrust, resentment, and ultimately murder, which leads Tom to new assumed identities and a suspenseful game of cat-and-mouse with the police. 

Members of the group had a great discussion while analyzing several aspects of the novel, particularly its cast of characters and themes. Many members of the group remarked how surprised they were by how much they enjoyed the book. The mounting suspense of will-he-or-won't-he-get-caught kept members from putting down their book. The character of Tom Ripley was also of great interest as members dissected the character. Several members found him to be a compelling protagonist villain who could easily manipulate the reader to his side just as easily as he could the characters in the book. Amongst its biggest critiques from members were that parts of the novel felt predictable and that Tom's actions came off as sloppy and careless towards the end. 

All in all, the novel received a favorable 3.8 rating with some expressing their interest in continuing on with the series to further explore the Machiavellian world of Mr. Tom Ripley. 

Overbooked Rating System

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ = It was amazing

⭐⭐⭐⭐ = Really liked it

⭐⭐⭐ = Liked it

⭐⭐ = It was ok

⭐ = Did not like it

Overbooked -- December 4, 2023

Overbooked got into the holiday spirits (pun intended) with December’s book club pick, the Charles Dickens classic novella, A Christmas Caro...