Wednesday, September 27, 2023

The Readers -- September 20, 2023

The Readers met recently to discuss The Gunners, by Rebecca Kauffman. The author uses a dual timeline to introduce six people who met as children, formed a club, as well as lasting friendships. They called themselves The Gunners, after the name on the mailbox of the abandoned house which served as their clubhouse. Sally's suicide brings them all back together as adults. 

 The Readers gave the book an overall score of 3.83 out of five, with three of the members rating the book a 4.5. The group liked how the author did a slow build on the characters, introducing them individually, revealing how the friendships began. The main character, Mikey Callahan, proved to be the purest of the lot, seeing the good in everyone. The book doesn't sugar-coat any of the lives of the characters. Instead the author chooses to show the readers that these are all just people, flawed as we all are, yet choosing to carry on the best they can, accept each other, and love each other. Mikey sums it up well with the following quote:

“That word love... it was scary and outlandish to him. But what was life if not a long series of scary and outlandish things you did and said and asked of your heart, so you could carry the wild and unreasonable hope that someday someone would hold your face and say, You are perfect. You can rest now. You were always perfect to me. Not because you were even remotely close to perfect, or brave, or strong, or even very good, but because you had been very dear friends for a very long time.”


Monday, September 25, 2023

Night Owls -- September 11, 2023

For September’s book, The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman, it was a return to characters that the Night Owls first met in last year’s book club selection The Thursday Murder Club. This time around the gang of pensioners are set to task when one of their own, Ibrahim Arif, is cruelly assaulted during a robbery, and when a dead man from Elizabeth Best’s former MI5 days reaches out to her for help. 

Highlights for the members were the author’s use of humor and characterization of the elderly cast of characters. Members agreed that it was refreshing to see a more polished representation of senior citizens, as they can oftentimes be portrayed as little more than incompetent or merely utilized for comedic relief. While at times a certain amount of suspended disbelief may be required when the characters accomplish certain physical feats it ultimately does little to detract from the story or from the characters that are all so uniquely endearing to readers.

Overall, the Night Owls gave the second installment in this series a favorable 3.8 out of 5 average rating.

Overbooked -- September 6, 2023

Overbooked met in September to discuss the book Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya, which follows the Chicano narrator, Antonio Márez, as he recounts his childhood set against the end of World War II and the spiritual journey he embarks on after Ultima, a highly respected curandera, comes to live out her remaining years with his family on the outskirts of a small New Mexico town. Over the course of two years, Antonio reflects on the events and people in his life during this time that ultimately help to shape his personal identity.

The themes of the book lend themselves well to discussion, as a great deal of time can be spent solely on reflecting on individuals’ interpretations of the author’s use of symbolism, imagery, and foreshadowing, as well as the juxtaposition of both Antonio’s religious and cultural worlds. The more members discussed the book or read aloud passages that resonated with them personally, the more members found themselves becoming impressed by the depth of the author’s writing skills, which led some members to change their initial impressions of the book. 

With such a thought-provoking and engaging discussion, the members of the group reviewed the book positively with a 4.6 out of 5 average rating

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Questers -- Sep5tember 13, 2023

The Questers met in September to discuss The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel. Primarily set during World War II, the novel follows Eva, a brilliant young forger in occupied France, as she struggles to keep her mother safe while also working for the resistance. She is responsible for forging documents to help Jewish children escape into Switzerland. This is a deeply emotional book, as the characters feel the weight of humanity's lack of civility bearing down on them.

When Eva begins giving the children their new names and backgrounds, she fears she is erasing their identities. With her partner in forgery Remy, they concoct a code in a book to preserve the original names of the children they are saving. Eva and Remy are then left to wonder if they have, in the effort to save these identities, lost their own. 

The novel is full of intrigue, religion, romance, betrayal, and history. The Questers thought it to be a very thought provoking read, with half the discussion focusing on whether such an atrocity could take place today and how we would react if faced with the same dilemmas as the characters in the book. Would we betray our neighbors? Would we save ourselves? Would we be brave enough to risk our lives for children we never knew or would know again? 

The novel received a 4.1 out of 5 star rating.


Once Upon a Crime -- September 5, 2023

The Once Upon a Crime book club met to discuss The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie. Of the seven members at the meeting, the book averaged 4.2 stars out of a possible 5. For some of us, this was the first time we had ever read a Hercule Poirot story, so we were not prepared for how differently he saw things from his partner, Mr. Hastings. 

A serial killer is out and about, but he always sends a note first to Hercule telling him the day and street, working his way through the alphabet. The first person killed is an older lady with a last name that starts with the letter A. The killer then continues to someone whose last name starts with the letter B, and so on. Hercule doesn't have the police tell the public this because he doesn't want to give the killer any publicity, but then Hastings says it might draw him out if he thinks they are on to him. Hastings focuses on the clues that present themselves, but Hercule seems to find the less obvious clues.

There were enough different characters in this story that none of our club members really could pick out the true killer. We all liked the book because there were several twists and turns and motives for several characters. The author was very clever in the layout and storyline of this book. 

We are setting up our next set of books for the 2024 year. If you think this might be a book club you would enjoy, please contact the library and sign up We always welcome mystery readers to our club!


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...