Book Club Recap: The Lake House by Kate Morton

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I was really looking forward to discussing The Lake House by Kate Morton at book club. Not only did our hostess this month provide some amazing drinks and snacks, but I knew the book’s content would lead us down the path of a good discussion. We definitely talked about Eleanor the most, I think because most of us are mothers. What would you do for your children? Would you make the same decisions Eleanor made? We discussed all these things and more, and we all had different opinions. We decided we all both loved and hated Eleanor at certain times in the book.

Most of us disliked Sadie; we didn’t feel she kept our attention during time jumps, and she didn’t have enough character development. We couldn’t decide exactly what rubbed us the wrong way, but I definitely think some more character development would have helped. We also agreed that we totally would have wanted to go into the house to explore for treasures. Some of us would have waited for a search warrant, but I would have gone in without permission. I love how we think up these “What if?” scenarios.

Everyone who managed to finish the book liked it, but at 492+ pages, it was quite a read. Those of us who hadn’t finished the book or wanted to start it are more motivated to do so now that we’ve discussed it.

ginasig

The Lake HouseThe Lake House
written by Kate Morton
published by Atria Books, 2015

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble (Nook) (print), Amazon,iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

About the book – from Goodreads: From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Secret Keeper and The Distant Hours, an intricately plotted, spellbinding new novel of heartstopping suspense and uncovered secrets.

Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, innocent, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories. But the mysteries she pens are no match for the one her family is about to endure…

One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. What follows is a tragedy that tears the family apart in ways they never imagined.

Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as an author. Theo’s case has never been solved, though Alice still harbors a suspicion as to the culprit. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old estate—now crumbling and covered with vines, clearly abandoned long ago. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone…yet more present than ever.

A lush, atmospheric tale of intertwined destinies, this latest novel from a masterful storyteller is an enthralling, thoroughly satisfying read.

If you belong to a book group, please tell us about what you’re reading in the comments.

 

If you would like to join this feature, please feel free to do so by posting your own Book Club Recap and linking it in the comments. 

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Book Club Recap: A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan

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We had a good showing the other night–all but one member was in attendance.

A Window Opens was a disappointing read for most of the group. After deciding that the discussion questions were not worth addressing (too academic), we had free discussion. Some of the opinions shared by members were, “I identified with and enjoyed this book, but it was not book club material” and “I found it superficial–it did not elicit any emotion from the reader.” The general consensus was that A Window Opens reads more like a memoir than a work of fiction.

Next month’s book is We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas. This debut novel promises compelling characters and a story rife for discussion.

Stay tuned.

~ Julie ~

 

A Window OpensA Window Opens
written by Elisabeth Egan
published by Simon & Schuster, 2015

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble (Nook) (print), Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

See Julie’s 2.5-star review here.

About the book – from Goodreads: For fans of I Don’t Know How She Does It and Where’d You Go, Bernadette?.

In A Window Opens, beloved books editor at Glamour magazine, Elisabeth Egan, brings us Alice Pearse, a compulsively honest, longing-to-have-it-all, sandwich generation heroine for our social-media-obsessed, lean in (or opt out) age.

Like her fictional forebears Kate Reddy and Bridget Jones, Alice plays many roles (which she never refers to as “wearing many hats” and wishes you wouldn’t, either). She is a mostly-happily married mother of three, an attentive daughter, an ambivalent dog-owner, a part-time editor, a loyal neighbor and a Zen commuter. She is not: a cook, a craftswoman, a decorator, an active PTA member, a natural caretaker or the breadwinner. But when her husband makes a radical career change, Alice is ready to lean in—and she knows exactly how lucky she is to land a job at Scroll, a hip young start-up which promises to be the future of reading, with its chain of chic literary lounges and dedication to beloved classics. The Holy Grail of working mothers―an intellectually satisfying job and a happy personal life―seems suddenly within reach.

Despite the disapproval of her best friend, who owns the local bookstore, Alice is proud of her new “balancing act” (which is more like a three-ring circus) until her dad gets sick, her marriage flounders, her babysitter gets fed up, her kids start to grow up and her work takes an unexpected turn. Readers will cheer as Alice realizes the question is not whether it’s possible to have it all, but what does she―Alice Pearse―really want?

 

If you belong to a book group, please tell us about what you’re reading in the comments.

If you would like to join this feature, please feel free to do so by posting your own Book Club Recap and linking it in the comments. 

 

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Belinda’s Book Club Recap: The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

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We had a smaller group than usual last night. Medical issues and late electricians took their toll on our attendance. Fortunately, an amazing literary accomplishment filled the empty spaces around the table.

The Light Between Oceans is an emotional tsunami. Decidedly, the best book anyone in our book group had read in many years.

We never made it to the list of questions I printed out from the Miles Franklin Literary Award website. The discussion spontaneously ebbed and flowed from topic to topic. We kept repeating words like, “imagery” and “symbolism” while finding it impossible to choose a single character that we couldn’t relate to on some level.

The Light Between Oceans reminded me of why I love my book group. And why discussing meaningful novels enriches the experience. So, how are we going to top last night’s discussion? Next month we read Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. Orphans? Trains? American history? Oh, yeah–endless fodder for opinions is definitely on the menu for next month’s meeting.

I can hardly wait.

belindasig

The Light Between Oceans

The Light Between Oceans 
written by M. L. Stedman
published by Scribner, 2012

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble (Nook) (print), Amazon, iBooksBook Depository, Goodreads

Read Gina’s 5-star review here and Gina’s Book Club Recap here

About the book – from Goodreads: After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.

Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.

M. L. Stedman’s mesmerizing, beautifully written novel seduces us into accommodating Isabel’s decision to keep this “gift from God.” And we are swept into a story about extraordinarily compelling characters seeking to find their North Star in a world where there is no right answer, where justice for one person is another’s tragic loss.

The Light Between Oceans is exquisite and unforgettable, a deeply moving novel.

If you belong to a book group, please tell us about what you’re reading in the comments.

If you would like to join this feature, please feel free to do so by posting your own Book Club Recap and linking it in the comments. 

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Book Club Recap: Family Pictures by Jane Green

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It was another great night for my neighborhood book club. It was a bit chilly, but we sat on my patio with heater going and had a great time talking, laughing, and discussing Family Pictures. It was relaxing and, as usual, a lot of fun.

We all enjoyed Family Pictures. Many of us thought the embezzlement and fraud was a throwaway and not really needed for the story. We also felt bad for Maggie and Sylvie, but for different reasons. Family Pictures also brought up a few discussions about Facebook, privacy, and how to carry on after an unexpected disruption to your life. (Yes, I’m being vague there so as not to spoil the book.) It also had us discussing eating disorders and how to spot them and what to do.

Family Pictures is a great book club pick. There are a lot of issues that can be discussed, and everyone will have different opinions about the characters and their reactions. It was a wonderful pick!

chrissysig

Family PicturesFamily Pictures
written by Jane Green
published by St. Martin’s Press, 2013

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble (Nook) (print), Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

Check out Chrissy’s 3.5-star review here.

About the book – from Goodreads: 
NY Times bestseller Jane Green delivers a riveting novel about two women whose lives intersect when a shocking secret is revealed.

From the author of Another Piece of My Heart comes the gripping story of two women who live on opposite coasts but whose lives are connected in ways they never could have imagined. Both women are wives and mothers to children who are about to leave the nest for school. They’re both in their forties and have husbands who travel more than either of them would like. They are both feeling an emptiness neither had expected. But when a shocking secret is exposed, their lives are blown apart. As dark truths from the past reveal themselves, will these two women be able to learn to forgive, for the sake of their children, if not for themselves?

 

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Book Club Recap: The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman

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My neighborhood book club read The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman last month, and everyone loved it. Each one of us related to Brett and her life list. We talked about bucket lists, goals and dreams from our youth, our current dreams, family, life, work . . . everything. The Life List had a bit of everything to talk about. It was wonderful. We shared memories, thoughts, ideas. Personally, I don’t remember ever making a “life list” as Brett did when I was a young girl. Some of our book club members didn’t either, but this book definitely made of think of things we would add to a “life list.”

Our hostess for the month contacted the author, and the fabulous Ms. Spielman sent us a few awesome items as well as a nice note. We were blown away by this! Thank you, Ms. Spielman, from all of us! We all loved your book.

 

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chrissysig

The Life ListThe Life List
written by Lori Nelson Spielman
published by Bantam, 2013

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble (Nook) (print), Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

Check out  my 5-star review here.

About the book – from Goodreads: 
In this utterly charming debut — one woman sets out to complete her old list of childhood goals, and finds that her lifelong dreams lead her down a path she never expects.

1. Go to Paris
2. Perform live, on a super big stage
3. Have a baby, maybe two
4. Fall in love

Brett Bohlinger has forgotten all about the list of life goals she’d written as a naïve teenager. In fact, at thirty-four, Brett seems to have it all—a plum job at her family’s multimillion-dollar company and a spacious loft with her irresistibly handsome boyfriend. But when her beloved mother, Elizabeth, dies, Brett’s world is turned upside down. Rather than simply naming her daughter the new CEO of Bohlinger Cosmetics, Elizabeth’s will comes with one big stipulation: Brett must fulfill the list of childhood dreams she made so long ago.

Grief-stricken, Brett can barely make sense of her mother’s decision. Some of her old hopes seem impossible. How can she possibly have a relationship with a father who died seven years ago? Other dreams (Be an awesome teacher!) would require her to reinvent her entire future. For each goal attempted, her mother has left behind a bittersweet letter, offering words of wisdom, warmth, and—just when Brett needs it—tough love.

As Brett struggles to complete her abandoned life list, one thing becomes clear: Sometimes life’s sweetest gifts can be found in the most unexpected places.

 

 

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Gina’s Book Club Recap: The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

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The meeting was held at my home this month. I was very excited. My sister-in-law helped me host since her house is not in our neighborhood, and the woman knows how to host. She’s way better at it than I am. We went to Trader Joe’s and purchased every tasty morsel you could think of to nibble. My husband selected some wine and we were in business.

The Light Between Oceans made us all want to cling to our children a little harder. We tried to imagine what it would be like to have our child taken from us and raised by another. It’s a heartbreaking thought—a thought that haunts you throughout this novel.

Most of us agreed that it was Isabel that we felt badly for and tried to understand. I think any woman could respond to a fellow woman struggling to become a mother. And I know there are a few of us in the club that had our battles with conceiving.

This book left us feeling emotional, but we were all glad we read it.

ginasig

The Light Between Oceans

The Light Between Oceans 
written by M. L. Stedman
published by Scribner, 2012

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble (Nook) (print), Amazon, iBooksBook Depository, Goodreads

Read Gina’s 5-star review here.

About the book – from Goodreads: After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.

Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.

M. L. Stedman’s mesmerizing, beautifully written novel seduces us into accommodating Isabel’s decision to keep this “gift from God.” And we are swept into a story about extraordinarily compelling characters seeking to find their North Star in a world where there is no right answer, where justice for one person is another’s tragic loss.

The Light Between Oceans is exquisite and unforgettable, a deeply moving novel.

If you belong to a book group, please tell us about what you’re reading in the comments.

efchappy

Book Club Recap: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

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I love my neighborhood book club. We have a great time catching up, discussing the books, and just laughing and relaxing.

We read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children in May. It definitely wasn’t a favorite. About half our members read it, a third read part of it, some didn’t try it, and some tried it but gave up. We did have some interesting discussions about the book, specifically about different theories and questions that we thought of while reading it. We all, however, were fascinated by the pictures. I think we had the most fun looking through the book, and a sequel that one of our members was reading, at all of the pictures. We all liked that part of the story . . . how the author found the pictures and wrote the story based on those.

chrissysig

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar ChildrenMiss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
written by Ransom Riggs
published by Quirk, 2011

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

See Chrissy’s 3-star review here

About the book – from Goodreads: A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.

A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography,Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

 

 

 

If you belong to a book group, please tell us about what you’re reading in the comments.

If you would like to join this feature, please feel free to do so by posting your own Book Club Recap and linking it in the comments. 

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Book Club Recap: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

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I really loved this book; it touched me in a way I can’t even explain. My book club felt the same way. We knew this book was something special and we definitely want to get the sequel when it comes out in September. We’ll probably end up reading it for one of our fall meetings because JoJo Moyes is THAT good at writing.

Me Before You made us all think about what it would be like to be both Louisa and Will. We couldn’t imagine what being in Will’s position would be like, and we all agreed that there was a part of us that wanted Will and Louisa to find a way to be together even with the challenges they would face.

The wedding stood out to us as a turning point for Louisa and Will. We loved how it made us fall in love with them as a couple. We know there is a movie coming out and this scene has to be done RIGHT. We won’t be taking any second-rate movie here, people!

Me Before You makes us all question life from another angle. It all makes us fall in love and makes us dwell on what we would do in a situation like Will’s.

This book was a book club favorite.

ginasig

Me Before YouMe Before You 
written by Jojo Moyes
published by Pamela Dorman Books/Viking, 2012

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

See Gina’s 5-star review here.

About the book – from Goodreads: Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.

What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.

Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.

What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

If you belong to a book group, please tell us about what you’re reading in the comments.

If you would like to join this feature, please feel free to do so by posting your own Book Club Recap and linking it in the comments. 

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Book Club Recap: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

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We had a large group; I think the summer just makes everyone want to get out. Not to mention school is ending so the crazy busy times are slowing down.

This week we talked about women who become obsessed and fall in love with serial killers. Do the women want to be involved with something bigger than them? Do they have an obsession? The young woman who wanted to marry Charles Mansion is one that sticks out in my mind. She was so young and how could she possibly have feelings for someone like him. Maybe we are all just missing something, but honestly, anyone that has the capacity to kill doesn’t seem like someone I would trust.

The topic of parenting came up. The novel in general didn’t seem to paint a good picture of parents. The only person we saw as the type of person who could parent was Diane.

This was definitely considered a dark book, but one we were all happy to have shared with one another. These are the types of books that stay with you and give you the feeling of being grateful for who you have in your life to support and love you.

ginasig

Dark PlacesDark Places
written by Gillian Flynn
published by Shaye Areheart Books, 2009

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble (Nook) (print), Amazon, iBooksBook Depository, Goodreads

Check out Gina’s 3.5-star review

About the book – from Goodreads: Libby Day was just seven years old when her evidence put her fifteen-year-old brother behind bars.

Since then, she has been drifting. But when she is contacted by a group who are convinced of Ben’s innocence, Libby starts to ask questions she never dared to before. Was the voice she heard her brother’s? Ben was a misfit in their small town, but was he capable of murder? Are there secrets to uncover at the family farm or is Libby deluding herself because she wants her brother back?

She begins to realise that everyone in her family had something to hide that day… especially Ben. Now, twenty-four years later, the truth is going to be even harder to find.

Who did massacre the Day family?

If you belong to a book group, please tell us about what you’re reading in the comments.

If you would like to join this feature, please feel free to do so by posting your own Book Club Recap and linking it in the comments. 

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Book Club Recap: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

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There was so much to talk about when it came to The Girl on the Train. Everyone seemed to have lots to say, and they did enjoy the book. I think it makes things more interesting when a book is good and worthy of discussion. Also, it helps when there is delicious food and wine to go around. I was probably three glasses in by the time we got around to discussing the book, and for some reason, alcohol always makes my thoughts flow better.

The one point that sticks out in my mind is whether or not the character Megan slept with her therapist. There were a few of us, myself included, that thought there were some unethical relations going on between doctor and patient. Then there were other women in the club that said there was no record in the book of it happening. One of the women finally researched online to find that there was no record either way but other book clubs were like ours: they were split down the middle as to whether or not Megan was sleeping with the man who was to be helping her professionally. However, many women agreed with me that the therapist sounded hot and that we wouldn’t hold it against Megan for having a romantic notion. So if anyone has read this book and wants to weigh in on the topic please feel free to because I am curious to know what you think.

We also talked about how emotions and scents can help people remember things. Rachel, the alcoholic character, always seemed to get blackout drunk and it caused her pain. I thought that hypnosis would have helped her locate the memories that she desperately wished to remember.

These discussions lead us to a fellow member’s dilemma with the 24-year-old babysitter that believed in mermaids. Well, obsessed over is more like it. Now I am very open-minded when it comes to these sorts of things. I read fiction. I think there is definitely a possibility that there are mermaids, fairies, Big Foot, and aliens. Why not? Then we took the discussion further to mediums and ghosts. Honestly, it was a deep conversation that really showed me different sides of my fellow book lovers. We all come from different backgrounds and yet a lot of us feel the same way about certain topics.

And we also all agreed that the murderer in this novel was CRAZY.

This book won’t disappoint. We were all entertained, and I think that’s what helped us pick May’s book, which is Dark Places by Gillian Flynn.

ginasig

The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train
written by Paula Hawkins
published by Riverhead Books, 2015

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon,iBooksBook Depository, Goodreads

Check out Gina’s review here!

About the book – from Goodreads: A debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people’s lives.

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

A compulsively readable, emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller that draws comparisons to Gone Girl, The Silent Wife, or Before I Go to Sleep, this is an electrifying debut embraced by readers across markets and categories.

 

If you belong to a book group, please tell us about what you’re reading in the comments.

If you would like to join this feature, please feel free to do so by posting your own Book Club Recap and linking it in the comments. 

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