Monday, January 24, 2011

February Book Pick

Thanks to everyone who voted in the book poll.  Our February Book pick is Half Broke Horses by Jeanette Walls.  (March and April are Sarah's Key and She's Gone Country, if you want to plan ahead.)
Half Broke Horses
Book club will be Thursday, February 17th at 7:00 at Susan's house.  

Friday, January 21, 2011

Book Picks

Bound South

Bound South by Susan Rebecca White

Louise Parker is a classic southern belle. Well-dressed and well-mannered, she can’t help but be frustrated by her daughter. Wild Caroline goes to a strict Christian prep school where she cheats in math class and can only focus on becoming an actress, until she has to leave after she’s discovered in flagrante delicto with her drama teacher. In the meantime Louise is distracted by Missy, the daughter of her housekeeper, a born-again evangelical who assists her mother in between trying to convert Louise’s gay son. Despite the consequences of Caroline’s behavior, Louise finds herself wishing she could be as careless and wondering how her life would have turned out had she chosen a different path. Even with their differences, Louise’s thoughts eventually lead her to believe that Caroline may be more of a southern dame and Louise more of a rebel than either of them thought. An elaborate, generation-spanning southern tale of family life in the vein of Rebecca Wells. 

By the Time You Read ThisBy The Time You Read This by Lola Jaye
Brit counselor Jaye offers a self-help manual dressed up as fiction in her debut. Lois's father, Kevin, died when she was five. Seven years later, she receives a book from Auntie Philomena on the day her mother remarries. The book, The Manual, is by her father and is chock-full of his advice for Lois, to be read one chapter per year, on her birthday. A list of seven rules includes a warning for Lois to not skip ahead, and she takes her dad's advice to heart, savoring the entries, the vast majority of which consist largely of standard self-help fare ( Tomorrow's not guaranteed, so live today; allow yourself the chance to really feel), while enduring the vicissitudes of life. It's decent if bland in its earnestness, and will likely find a place on more than a few bookshelves between Kübler-Ross and The Last Lecture.

Half Broke HorsesHalf Broke Horses by Jeannette Wells
For the first 10 years of her life, Lily Casey Smith, the narrator of this true-life novel by her granddaughter, Walls, lived in a dirt dugout in west Texas. Walls, whose megaselling memoir, The Glass Castle, recalled her own upbringing, writes in what she recalls as Lily's plainspoken voice, whose recital provides plenty of drama and suspense as she ricochets from one challenge to another. Having been educated in fits and starts because of her parents' penury, Lily becomes a teacher at age 15 in a remote frontier town she reaches after a solo 28-day ride. Marriage to a bigamist almost saps her spirit, but later she weds a rancher with whom she shares two children and a strain of plucky resilience. (They sell bootleg liquor during Prohibition, hiding the bottles under a baby's crib.) Lily is a spirited heroine, fiercely outspoken against hypocrisy and prejudice, a rodeo rider and fearless breaker of horses, and a ruthless poker player. Assailed by flash floods, tornados and droughts, Lily never gets far from hardscrabble drudgery in several states—New Mexico, Arizona, Illinois—but hers is one of those heartwarming stories about indomitable women that will always find an audience.

In the WoodsIn The Woods by Tana French
Rob Ryan and his partner, Cassie Maddox, land the first big murder case of their police careers: a 12-year-old girl has been murdered in the woods adjacent to a Dublin suburb. Twenty years before, two children disappeared in the same woods, and Ryan was found clinging to a tree trunk, his sneakers filled with blood, unable to tell police anything about what happened to his friends. Ryan, although scarred by his experience, employs all his skills in the search for the killer and in hopes that the investigation will also reveal what happened to his childhood friends. In the Woods is a superior novel about cops, murder, memory, relationships, and modern Ireland. The characters of Ryan and Maddox, as well as a handful of others, are vividly developed in this intelligent and beautifully written first novel, and author French relentlessly builds the psychological pressure on Ryan as the investigation lurches onward under the glare of the tabloid media. Equally striking is the picture of contemporary Ireland, booming economically and fixated on the shabbiest aspects of American popular culture. An outstanding debut and a series to watch for procedural fans. 

Sarah's KeySarah's Key by Tatiana de la Rosnay
De Rosnay's U.S. debut fictionalizes the 1942 Paris roundups and deportations, in which thousands of Jewish families were arrested, held at the Vélodrome d'Hiver outside the city, then transported to Auschwitz. Forty-five-year-old Julia Jarmond, American by birth, moved to Paris when she was 20 and is married to the arrogant, unfaithful Bertrand Tézac, with whom she has an 11-year-old daughter. Julia writes for an American magazine and her editor assigns her to cover the 60th anniversary of the Vél' d'Hiv' roundups. Julia soon learns that the apartment she and Bertrand plan to move into was acquired by Bertrand's family when its Jewish occupants were dispossessed and deported 60 years before. She resolves to find out what happened to the former occupants: Wladyslaw and Rywka Starzynski, parents of 10-year-old Sarah and four-year-old Michel. The more Julia discovers—especially about Sarah, the only member of the Starzynski family to survive—the more she uncovers about Bertrand's family, about France and, finally, herself. Already translated into 15 languages, the novel is De Rosnay's 10th (but her first written in English, her first language). It beautifully conveys Julia's conflicting loyalties, and makes Sarah's trials so riveting, her innocence so absorbing, that the book is hard to put down.

She's Gone CountryShe's Gone Country by Jane Porter
Shey Darcy, a 39-year-old former top model for Vogue and Sports Illustrated led a charmed life in New York City with a handsome photographer husband until the day he announced he'd fallen in love with someone else. Left to pick up the pieces of her once happy world, Shey decides to move back home to Texas with her three teenage sons. Life on the family ranch, however, brings with it a whole new host of dramas starting with differences of opinion with her staunch Southern Baptist mother, her rugged but overprotective brothers, and daily battles with her three sons who are also struggling to find themselves. Add to the mix Shey's ex-crush, Dane Kelly, a national bullriding champ and she's got her hands full. It doesn't take long before Shey realizes that in order to reinvent herself, she must let go of an uncertain future and a broken past, to find happiness--and maybe love--in the present.

The Wednesday SistersThe Wednesday Sisters by Meg White Clayton
Set during the summer of 1968 in Palo Alto, California, Clayton’s novel chronicles the lives of five women who conduct a weekly writing group at their neighborhood park. Frankie is an unassuming midwesterner whose inventor husband brings them to the burgeoning Silicon Valley. She meets Linda, the all-American athlete; Kath, the southern belle; Brett, the enigmatic scientist; and Ally, the shy bohemian. The women share their feelings about marriage and motherhood and together mourn the assassination of Robert Kennedy and watch as man walks on the moon and feminists protest the Miss America pageant. They support one another through illness, infertility, racism, and infidelity—and encourage each other through publishers’ rejections. Readers will be swept up by this moving novel about female friendship and enthralled by the recounting of a pivotal year in American history as seen through these young women’s eyes.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

January Meeting

Our January meeting will be Thursday, January 20th at 6:30 PM at Kim A.'s house.  We will be discussing Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner.  Please bring your book and an appetizer to share.

Please also bring suggestions for books to read.  I would like for us to pick our books through May.

As always, please RSVP in the comment section.

See you there!