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Sarah's Key by Tatiana De Rosnay
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Dramatic, Insightful
Sarah's Key

This book although difficult and hard to handle at times, due to the subject matter, is one that we would whole heartedly recommend. The devastation that Sarah would have felt knowing what she had done out of love and protection for her brother, was in fact a death sentence would have been unbearable.

As a group we were unanimously ignorant about this part of history and felt badly that we didn't know about these events. A couple of us researched the events and discovered that the French government divided the Jewish population into groups for deportation, favouring "French Jews". We were saddened to realize that France still appears to express prejudice when it comes to immigrants as illustrated by their recent interest in banning the hijab.

Throughout the book the author used two voices: Sarah and Julia. We felt we enjoyed Sarah's voice better than Julia's. It seemed to have more passion where Julia, even as a character, felt overindulged at times. This book makes one wonder about the old saying, "What if these walls could talk?", in an entirely new way.

Insightful, Beautiful, Inspiring
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

This month's read wasn't met with much enthusiasm or enjoyment and in some instances had to be put on "to do lists" to be read. The book was unable to draw people into the story and keep them there.
The premise of the story wasn't the issue, it seemed to be the long drawn out fashion the writer used to explain the depth of poverty the family lived in. We discussed how this style did a realistic job of illustrating the never-ending cycle of poverty and the near impossible ability for a family to raise above it but in the end decided that we didn't need to be repeatedly bashed over the head with the same information to grasp that concept.
We discussed that despite the time frame difference from the book to now, that poverty is still one of, if not the biggest, barrier for individuals to overcome in order to succeed in life. All in all it was unanimously decided that this was a book that we wouldn't recommend as a "pleasure" read.

Madwoman of Bethlehem by Rosine Nimeh-Mailloux
Book Club Recommended
Dramatic, Interesting
Madwoman of Bethlehem

This book was well received by everyone in attendance despite its lack of "happy" ending. The name of the institution Amal resided in, Bethlehem Oasis for Troubled Women, at first seemed to be a cruel choice of words but as it turned out, it was indeed Amal's oasis.
Despite the overall feeling of Amal's situation being bleak/hopeless, as a reader you couldn't help having a sense of hope, when her friend came back into the picture, and that she would leave the institution. However, the author remained "true" to character and Amal decided to stay.
One question we tossed around as a group was -what would have been expected of her if she had left the asylum? We discussed several theories on this topic, as well we wondered if her life would have turned out differently if her mother/sister/anybody would have stuck up for her from the very beginning as a child or as a young adult.

Ender's Game (The Ender Saga) by Orson Scott Card
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Interesting, Graphic
Ender's Game

Science fiction was a new genre to some us in the club, but we gave it a go. We thought young male readers would really like this book, that they would be able to relate to it, especially with all the "war" video games geared towards this demographic.

Some thought the book lagged a bit when it kept repeating how alone Ender was while he was being bullied over and over again. There was some conversation surrounding the lack of reasoning given for this one family's ability to produce three "gifted" children. It was even suggested the author missed an opportunity to create a unique twist by saying Bugger DNA was used on these children and that was why Ender was able to think like them and ultimately destroy them.

Despite being written in a space fantasy tone there is much that can be learned about human behaviour in this book and much the reader can take away from it even if this genre isn't always their first choice.

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Insightful, Interesting

This was our first non-fiction book club pick. The consensus from the group was that the first half of the book was interesting, but it seemed to lose its way when Gladwell started talking about the garment industry.
We talked about the 10 000 hour rule and decided that the saying - "practice makes perfect" holds true when it comes to perfecting a skill.
Another portion of the book people found interesting was the language of numbers used in different countries and how mental math would be easier to master with a less confusing language than English.
The last section of the book, devoted to the author seemed like "filler". It almost seemed like he ran out of material but needed to add pages to fill a book.
One thing the book did succeed at was illustrating that a person's success isn't a solitary effort, that it involves unique timing , placing and a certain skill set.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Inspiring, Interesting
The Help

The characters came alive in this well written book about oppression and prejudice during the civil rights movement in Jackson, Mississippi. As a group, we whole heartedly agreed that this book was worth recommending to a friend.
The author was able to interject elements of humour throughout the book despite the seriousness of the subject matter. This could have been disastrous if done poorly but it enhanced the characters personalities without disrupting the plot of the book. One thing is for certain, none of us will ever think of chocolate pie in the same way again!
At the end of the book, it appears that all the main characters are getting a fresh start in life: Skeeter heading to New York; Minny leaving her husband; and Aibileen writing the Miss Myrna column. One almost hopes that a second book is written to pick up a few years later to see how all the characters are doing in their respective "new" lives.

Book Club Recommended
Optimistic, Fun
The Quilter's Apprentice

This month's book was unanimously deemed a much lighter read and was fairly well received by everyone. Many felt it was a "nice" story but questioned whether it was realistic since everything seemed to work out just right for everyone in the end. Many believed Mrs. Compson and Sara both needed one another equally even though they didn't realize it at the beginning. It was mentioned that it would have been nice to explore Sara's stressed relationship with her mother in more detail, this however occurs in the next book in the series titled, Round Robin, for those who are interested.
As a group we were divided on our new found interest in quilting, some thought they might like to belong to a quilting bee while others shuddered at the thought. However we all felt the notion of having a "stitch and bitch" sounded like a lot of fun even if some of us wouldn't be doing any stitching. As a group however, we all agreed that we felt our book club paralleled with the quilting bee, bringing several different people together to enjoy a shared interest.

The Host: A Novel by Stephenie Meyer
Book Club Recommended
Adventurous, Romantic, Insightful
The Host

There were a few surprising opinions/thoughts that came from the reading of this book. Since science fiction isn't everyone's favourite genre to read, some went into this book quite hesitantly. That being said, the book seemed to
really be about humanity and asked questions such as: What is it that makes us , us? Are we more physical beings, or spiritual, or emotional? When you fall in love with someone, who/what are you actually falling in love with? Can they be separated?

We discussed the under tones of accepting abuse and found them hard to understand, given that the readers are primarily young females and asked ourselves what kind of example this was setting? Stephenie Meyer once again used the "older" male for the female character to feel safe, and loved adding to the perceived power imbalance in the relationship(s).

Despite some of our reservations about The Host, we found the book to be more than just a "sci-fi" book based on our discussions and reactions to the content.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Informative, Interesting
Still Alice

This was a great start to a new kick off to our book club. It was great to see so many new enthusiastic faces. The evening started with introductions and a brief description of our book club "rules".
Still Alice generated lots of interesting discussion. Everyone agreed that the book was extremely well written, most likely due to Ms. Genova's academic background. Many described the book as disturbing, unsettling and occasionally a bit scary as it hit too close to home.
There was a mixed discussion surrounding Alice's husband and his reaction to her diagnosis and subsequent illness . The subject matter of this book allowed for everyone to take a look at their own personal "Life Plan" and to see how they think they would want to handle a diagnosis of Alzheimer's.
Overall this book was well received by everyone and is highly recommended.

Secret Daughter: A Novel by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Informative, Interesting
Secret Daughter

This book was well received by all of us and found to be a "good read". We all agreed that the character, Somer seemed to be unrealistic and not true to her well established personality, in relation to her "insecurities" of being an adoptive mother. Some felt that this character conflict could have been the result of the author's own biases and Indian background.

As "Western" women we felt outraged at the inequalities this book made us face, that is a daily occurrence in other parts of the world such as, India. We all hated Kavita' s husband for killing their infant daughter. When we discovered what his nightmares were all about, we couldn't necessarily forgive his actions, but we were able to see him as more than just a monster.

The author was able to illustrate various aspects of India life in such a way that readers with limited knowledge of Indian culture could follow and thoroughly enjoy the book.

Ragged Company by Richard Wagamese
Book Club Recommended
Insightful, Dramatic, Informative
Ragged Company

This book was deemed to be a hidden gem that we all intend on passing on to other friends to read. We were intrigued by the varied stories behind the characters that brought them all to the same place, the street. We found the street language and nicknames to be accurate as well as amusing (Rounders, Square Johns, Double Dick).

We liked the realism of the book, which is explained when it was discovered that Wagamese himself has experienced street life because of alcoholism in his past. The book maintained this sense of realism by refraining from reverting to the age old "happily ever after" mantra once the group won the lottery.

It felt right to us that Amelia would return to the streets to continue doing what she felt like she was supposed to do - look out for others. This book was a strong reminder that behind every face there is an individual and a life journey that at times can take unexpected detours.

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova
Book Club Recommended
Informative, Inspiring, Interesting
Left Neglected

This book was well received by everyone. No one in our group had ever heard of this ailment prior to reading this book. We felt that Genova did an excellent job of taking us on the same "learning" journey as her characters, as they all came to terms with Sara's new life.

Since we had previously read and reviewed Still Alice it was only natural that comparrisons be made. Some felt they liked this book more because it had a happier feeling at the end of the book, however this is entirely to do with the too very different subject matters. Sara and her family adjusted to her new life adaptations and continued to live through them. Where with Still Alice, as a reader you know the ultimate ending for Alice isn't going to be so "happy".

We would reccommend this book to our friends and family, especially those that seem to need a reminder from time to time to slow down and perhaps re-look at their life's priorities.

The Green Road: A Novel by Anne Enright
Insightful, Addictive, Difficult

A Man Called Ove: A Novel by Fredrik Backman
Fun, Insightful, Beautiful

The Cove by Ron Rash

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