Thursday, June 29, 2023

The Readers -- June 21, 2023

The Readers met on June 21st to discuss The Whistling Season, by Ivan Doig. The novel centers on widower Oliver Milliron and the season in 1909 that he decides to hire a housekeeper. He is drawn to Rose Llewellyn by the ad she placed, offering the services of an "A-1 housekeeper" who "can't cook but doesn't bite." When Rose and her brother, Morris Morgan, step off the train in Marias Coulee, Montana, the lives of Oliver and his three rambunctious boys are forever changed. 

The Readers really enjoyed The Whistling Season, giving it a 3.9 rating out of a possible 5 stars. Everyone felt that the book had a slow start, but was well worth it in the end. The author has a lyrical and intelligent way of writing. His descriptions of the events in the one-room school that the boys attended made the reader feel as if they were there, as if they were the ones dog-piling the bully who didn't realize he needed to wear glasses. The characters were brought to life in such a way that made the reader really care. If you missed the last few chapters of the book, you missed the climactic ending, which was an ending no one predicted. All in all, The Whistling Season was a feel good novel, and most of the members were going to read other stories by Ivan Doig. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Young Soul Readers -- June 21, 2023

The Young Soul Readers met in June to discuss Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi.

Jayne is in fashion school in New York City. Well, she's enrolled. It's debatable how often she actually attends. June has a fancy job in finance, or that's what everyone thinks. But when June gets cancer, the estranged sisters are pulled together because June needs Jayne's identity to get treatment. By pretending to be her sister to get the life-saving procedure, June is forced to come clean and pull Jayne back into her orbit. Though their relationship stays rocky, they're suddenly glued together, forced to admit that their respective glamorous lives are actually filled with roaches and trauma and missteps.

The discussion group had mixed feelings on this book. The writing style, which was told from Jayne’s perspective in first person, was not favorable. The characters were not very likable, making it hard to keep the readers intrigued. Some of the characters' relationships with each other seemed unrealistic. The ending wasn’t how everyone hoped, as the author left it open, leaving the readers with unanswered questions.

There were several disorders brought up throughout the book, but while detailed, the author didn't write about them in an informative way.

Trigger warnings for the reader include disordered eating (bulimia and binge eating), dysmorphia, mental illness, cancer, racism, sexual assault, parental abandonment, and mentions of abuse.

Overall, the book received 2.6 out of 5 stars from the group.

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Night Owls and Overbooked -- June 12, 2023

For the month of June, Overbooked and the Night Owls held a joint discussion group for the Margaret Atwood classic, The Handmaid’s Tale. The novel centers around the character of Offred named after the Commander she comes to serve at the beginning of the book. Offred recounts her time forced to serve as a handmaid, a subservient and oppressive role created in the new totalitarian state of Gilead. A handmaid’s sole purpose is to bear children for sterile couples who serve as the government's top officials. 

Going into the book, members of both groups knew that this was going to be a “heavy” read and that sentiment did not change. Atwood weaved several hefty themes together throughout the novel, such as government control, gender roles, and free will. These are all topics that members agreed are still very much as prevalent today as they were almost 40 years ago when the book was originally published. This alone left a deep impression on members and for some, was the best aspect of the book. However, some members felt that the book was very slow and boring and made it hard to really engage with the story. Others felt that the monotony was intentional and helped to further underscore the quiet horror of Offred’s existence. Another critique was that the story’s non-linear plot muddled their understanding of when or where things were happening throughout the book. Again, other members viewed this as a deliberate choice given what is revealed in the final chapter of the novel.

The closing comment from the members was that while The Handmaid’s Tale is not a “fun” read or a book that could be recommended to just anyone, it is a deeply thought-provoking book that lends itself well to a book club discussion and one that will stay with you long after you’ve read it.

The final average rating was 4.2 out of 5 stars


Wednesday, June 14, 2023

The Questers -- June 14, 2023

The Questers met in June to discuss Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris. This suspenseful thriller chronicles a marriage orchestrated by a psychopathic lawyer who gets his kicks by controlling his new, unsuspecting wife. After wooing her as the perfect suitor, Jack flips his new wife's world upside down on their wedding night, revealing a personality Grace never glimpsed during their courtship. Jack capitalizes on the love and commitment Grace has for her sister, Millie, who has Down's syndrome. Grace lives in fear of what Jack might do to Millie if she ever tries to cross him. This is a psychological game that the reader is brought into and wants to escape just as much as Grace wants out of the nightmare she's living.

The Questers had a hard time with the creepy, psychopathic tone of the book, but did like the linear aspect of the story line. Members of the group were relieved that it was a quick read, because they definitely wanted to get to the end to see if and how Grace escapes this living nightmare. The novel earned 2.93 out of 5 stars from the Questers.

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Once Upon a Crime -- June 6, 2023

The Once Upon a Crime book club members met to discuss their June book In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. It received 3.9 out of 5 stars from the group.

The group realized this was one of the first true crime mystery murder books and therefore was not really a "who done it".  The author chose to tell the reader who the perpetrators were early in the book, and then the narrative goes back and forth between present and past, examining both men's personal lives as young men. 

The group agreed that what made it hard to read was the fact that there was no reason for this family to have been so brutally murdered. The group also talked about the two men and how they pointed fingers at each other. One man seemed to be the brains, while the other was the action man, scared and intimidated by his partner in crime. 

The next book for this group is The Eighth Detective by Alex Pavesi, and because the meeting would fall on July 4th, it will be rescheduled for June 27 at 6:30. 



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...