Thursday, July 27, 2023

The Readers -- July 19, 2023

The Readers met on July 19 to discuss The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis. The book is a classic in a series of seven books, written about four siblings who are sent to live with a professor during WWII to escape the blitz. While exploring the house, Lucy discovers a wardrobe with a gateway into the mysterious world of Narnia. While there, she meets Tumnus, a faun who explains that Narnia is ruled by the White Witch. She keeps the land in a perpetual state of winter, where "it's always winter, but never Christmas." The other siblings at first do not believe Lucy when she tells them about the mysterious new world, but soon discover the gateway into Narnia, and find themselves embroiled in a battle of good versus evil.

 The group enjoyed the book, as well as the discussion. They all agree the book is a wonderful read for all ages. One member fondly remembers her father, and teacher, in her one room schoolhouse, reading the book to them every year. It was a reading she looked forward to, even though she had heard the book numerous times. The Readers liked the Christian symbolism in the book, especially Aslan, who sacrifices himself for his friends. The animals in the book made it engaging and fun -- the faun, the beaver family, the lion. The heroic battle in the end, where good triumphs over evil, is classic. They felt that the writing was brilliant. All in all, the group enjoyed reading the book, even those who have read it before, giving it 3.83 stars. Most of the group even mentioned that it made them want to read, or re-read, the whole series.


Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Night Owls -- July 10, 2023

The Night Owls met in July to discuss the book An Anonymous Girl by co-authors Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkenan. Billed as a psychological thriller, the book centers around Jessica Farris, a young make-up artist desperate to earn extra money to help support her disabled sister, and Dr. Lydia Shields, a well-respected psychologist who is leading a morality and ethics research project which Jessica sneaks into in order to become a highly paid test subject. Now referred to as Subject 53, what begins as a simple questionnaire quickly becomes a probing and invasive exploration into Jessica's personal life that ensnares her with Dr. Shields. Soon, Jessica begins to question the true purpose of Dr. Shields' research project, if being manipulated for personal reasons, and what exactly happened to Subject 5?

This is the second book the Night Owls have read by Hendricks and Pekkenan, so members knew that they would be in for twisty turns and psychological suspense. On both of those fronts, the plot delivered. While readers could sort of predict the general direction certain plot points would go, there was just enough of a little twist (how plausible could be debated) to keep them engaged and eager to see how all the little pieces would fall into place by the end. Members of the discussion also noted the authors' effective use of first and second person perspectives for Jessica and Dr. Shields, respectively. It was most effective when reading chapters from Dr. Shields' perspective as if she were addressing the reader directly and manipulating you. 

While the suspense aspect of the book was well-written, other parts of the novel felt a bit far-fetched and really require you, as a reader, to suspend disbelief in order for certain events to happen. However, some members were hard pressed to believe that some of these events would ever escalate to the levels they did in the novel. All in all though, the majority of members enjoyed the book and thought it made for an easy, exhilarating summer read. 

The final average rating was 3.8 out of 5 stars. 


Overbooked -- July 12, 2023


For the month of July, Overbooked members gathered to discuss the somber memoir Night by Elie Wiesel. In the book Wiesel recounts the horrific events of his imprisonment in the infamous Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps when he was only fifteen years old. Spanning just a year, Wiesel candidly describes the horrors he bore witness to and the atrocities inflicted upon the Jewish prisoners at the behest of the Nazi regime. The haunting prose as Wiesel writes of his struggles to survive, not only physically but mentally, will leave an indelible mark on any reader.

Members in attendance were unanimous in their opinions of the book. While difficult to read at times, members spoke of the impact of Wiesel's writing when describing imagery that was gruesome but necessary, although never in a gratuitous manner. Wiesel does not censor himself in order to make these events more palatable to readers, and members agreed that doing so would have only minimized them. Members also stated that Wiesel's memoir serves as a reminder of the monstrosities humankind is capable of and is a book everyone should make time to read.

The final average rating was 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, July 13, 2023

The Questers -- July 13, 2023

The Questers discussed Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty for the July meeting. The four Delaney siblings have different memories of their years growing up in their parents' tennis academy than Joy and Stan, who insist that they didn't realize their children were uphappy in their formative years. This is not a tale of bitter kids blaming their parents for all their shortcomings, however. Overall, they all love each other, they just don't always like each other, and they definately don't always understand each other. Add Savannah, a complete stranger who shows up on Joy and Stan's doorstep with bruises on her face, to the mix and tensions begin to rise between parents and children. The more Savannah integrates into their lives, the more confused the kids are about what their parents are doing and why this stranger enjoys cooking them dinner so much. When Joy goes missing, and the police suspect Stan of her murder, this strange young woman seems to be the missing piece to the puzzle to either exonerate or condem their father. 

The novel provided a lot to discuss, but most discussion members who were familiar with Moriarty's other novels agreed that it was not her best offering. The characters were engaging and the end provided an intesreting, yet dark twist, but there were too many aspects of the plot that were unrealistic to garner a lot of respect for this novel. For example, key to the storyline was that Stan and Joy welcomed this stranger into their home for weeks, and most members found that unbelievable. Everyone did agree, however, that we wanted to keep reading it to find out how it ended. The book earned 2.84 stars out of 5 from The Questers.

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...