Book Club Recap: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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Once we got our wine and snacks, our book club curled up next to the hostess’s fireplace to talk about The Night Circus. We all agreed: this book is outside what we would normally choose for ourselves, but it’s great. It’s full of magic, drama, and romance.

We first discussed which characters we thought were a waste of writing and which ones were most memorable. One of our favorite characters is Herr Friedrick Thiessen. He is an endearing, lovable character, and we all wanted him to be Celia’s father. Herr Thiessen is a special man.

The ladies and I also agreed that it would be great to have a real night circus, and in this day and age, it would be very unique. I don’t like the circus or the carnival (I think perhaps I watched Are You Afraid of the Dark and It too many times as a child), but a night circus would be amazing!

The Night Circus was a big hit for my book club, and we’d all recommend it.

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The Night Circus

The Night Circus
written by Erin Morgenstern
published by Doubleday, 2011

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

Check out Gina’s review and Chrissy’s review.

About the book – from Goodreads: The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called “Le Cirque des Reves,” and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway–a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love – a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per-formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead

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

Has your book club read The Night Circus? What did they think?

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Book Club Recap: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

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I love my book club. I always look forward to spending time with the lovely ladies and enjoying snacks, wine, and books. This book club we enjoyed some red wines, and one of them was a Fifty Shades wine (if you’re curious, it was delicious).

A.J. Fikry is probably one of the characters the girls and I love most so far in book club. We think his quirkiness makes him endearing and interesting, and we love how he Googles things about raising a child (because let’s face it – we do it too).

We talked about the type of legacy we want to leave with our children. I think there are a lot of us who thought about making a list of books we hope our children read. I said it would be a hard book list to make because there are so many books that have left an impression on me. The discussion on legacy even led us to a discussion on baby books we’ve yet to complete because our lives as mothers are crazy.

My book club loved this book, and those who didn’t finish it before the meeting were told to do so at their earliest convenience because that’s how special The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is to all of us.

 

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The Storied Life of A.J. FikryThe Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
written by Gabrielle Zevin
published by Algonquin Books

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

Be sure to check out Gina’s 5-star review here

About the book – from Goodreads: On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto “No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World.” A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island-from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.

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

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Book Club Recap: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline and The Accidental Book Club by Jennifer Scott

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This month my book club read two books, Orphan Train and The Accidental Book Club. As usual, we had a wonderful evening talking, laughing, sharing, and munching on a yummy pumpkin pie! Sadly, I forgot to take notes on our discussion. What can I say? I was having to much fun. So, my recap is rather short. But below are the details for the books! Have you read either of these books? Has your book club?

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Orphan TrainOrphan Train
written by Christina Baker Kline
published by William Morrow Paperbacks

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

About the book – from Goodreads: The author of Bird in Hand and The Way Life Should Be delivers her most ambitious and powerful novel to date: a captivating story of two very different women who build an unexpected friendship: a 91-year-old woman with a hidden past as an orphan-train rider and the teenage girl whose own troubled adolescence leads her to seek answers to questions no one has ever thought to ask.

Nearly eighteen, Molly Ayer knows she has one last chance. Just months from “aging out” of the child welfare system, and close to being kicked out of her foster home, a community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping her out of juvie and worse.

Vivian Daly has lived a quiet life on the coast of Maine. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past. As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly discovers that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.

The closer Molly grows to Vivian, the more she discovers parallels to her own life. A Penobscot Indian, she, too, is an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past. As her emotional barriers begin to crumble, Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life – answers that will ultimately free them both.

Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of second chances, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.

 

The Accidental Book ClubThe Accidental Book Club
written by Jennifer Scott
published by NAL Trade

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

About the book – from Goodreads: Writing a new future takes a little time—and a lot of love.

Jean Vison never expected to run a book club, until her life took an unexpected turn. Now, with Jean’s husband gone, what began as an off-the-cuff idea has grown into a group of six women who meet the second Tuesday of every month for a potluck supper, for wine and laughter—and for books.

There’s Loretta, who deals with the lack of intimacy in her marriage by diving into erotic novels. Dorothy, whose ruffian sons are a never-ending source of stress. May entertains the group with her outrageous dating stories, while Mitzi finds something political to rant about in every book—including Loretta’s trashy romances. Even Janet, with her mousy shyness and constant blush, has helped Jean rediscover the joy in life.

So when Jean’s family starts unraveling again—her daughter forced into rehab and her troubled teen granddaughter, Bailey, coming to live with her in the interim—she turns to the book club for comfort and support. And, together, they all, even Bailey, discover that family is what you make of it, especially the family you choose…

 

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 Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams

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Belinda and I are in a book group/club together; it’s how we met. It’s called Ladies’ Book Group–creative, I know. She agreed to write a recap of what our group discussed at our monthly get-together.

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. 

Our non-booklover friends will never understand the kinship we share discussing how our favorite stories touch our lives. But that’s where we begin the night’s talk about A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams.

Our group admired Lily’s ability “to stay true to herself” through a time of rapidly changing societal pressures.

Several women tried to imagine how their parents’ and grandparents’ lives played out in the same decade as our fictional characters.

“Would Mom have tried some of the same stunts Budgie pulled?”

The general consensus was: Oh yeah, our parents or grandparents were at least as bold and exciting as the characters in the book. They survived the unimaginable, braved the formidable, and inspired us to push forward into the unknown.

If memory serves me, it was at this point somebody broke out chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter icing effectively ending all literary discussions.

We shared our own struggles with kids, jobs, keeping up with technology.

“So what happens to my Nook if they break off with Barnes and Noble?”

This is just one of the many pressing issues for a group of grown women, now shamelessly dipping our fingers into a decadent mountain of icing.

Sadly, we’re skipping next month’s gathering because it falls on a holiday. I’ll miss giving myself permission to toss the diet and manners and laugh like a kid for that too short window of time we call “book group meeting.”

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a hundred summersA Hundred Summers
written by Beatriz Williams
published by Putnam Adult

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

About the book – from Goodreads: Memorial Day, 1938: New York socialite Lily Dane has just returned with her family to the idyllic oceanfront community of Seaview, Rhode Island, expecting another placid summer season among the familiar traditions and friendships that sustained her after heartbreak. 

That is, until Greenwalds decide to take up residence in Seaview.

Nick and Budgie Greenwald are an unwelcome specter from Lily’s past: her former best friend and her former fiancé, now recently married—an event that set off a wildfire of gossip among the elite of Seaview, who have summered together for generations. Budgie’s arrival to restore her family’s old house puts her once more in the center of the community’s social scene, and she insinuates herself back into Lily’s friendship with an overpowering talent for seduction…and an alluring acquaintance from their college days, Yankees pitcher Graham Pendleton. But the ties that bind Lily to Nick are too strong and intricate to ignore, and the two are drawn back into long-buried dreams, despite their uneasy secrets and many emotional obligations. 

Under the scorching summer sun, the unexpected truth of Budgie and Nick’s marriage bubbles to the surface, and as a cataclysmic hurricane barrels unseen up the Atlantic and into New England, Lily and Nick must confront an emotional cyclone of their own, which will change their worlds forever.

 

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Book Club Recap: Healing Stone by Brock Booher

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Welcome to a new feature here at EFC. Belinda and I are in a book group/club together; it’s how we met. It’s called Ladies Book Group–creative, I know. She agreed to write a recap of what our group discussed at our monthly get-together.

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. 

Mark your calendars. We’ve made history. For the first time in our book club’s existence, we had a unanimous agreement. We all loved Healing Stone by Brock Booher. (You can find Belinda’s review of Healing Stone here.)

Book Group night began with usual goodies and gossip. We enjoyed homemade brownies and bawdy humor. But the real treat arrived via Skype. Mr. Booher was kind enough to meet with our group to discuss his book and answer questions.

book group pic with Brock

We started with the easy stuff, “Why did the dog have to die?” From there we drilled Mr. Booher on issues ranging from spirituality to the difficulties of getting published as a new author.

One of our more creative (and gutsy) members began giving him suggestions for a sequel. He graciously wrote it down (or pretended to write it down) and assured us he’d consider it. What a great guy.

After our meeting with the author, we had an opportunity to discuss our own gifts. One member openly considered the possibility of writing a story about aliens with the ability to heal mental illness. We assumed she was joking. If not, our laughter was terribly inappropriate.

In the end, we counted our own blessings. All of the women in our group have a gift. Each brings her unique brand of wit, wisdom, and wackiness. I hope that all our readers are lucky enough to have a book club like ours. And if so, we’d love to hear from you.

We are taking July off, but stay tuned for our August recap. We will be reading A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams.

belindasig

healing stoneHealing Stone
written by Brock Booher
published by Cedar Fort Publishing & Media

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

About the book – from Goodreads: Abandoned in a graveyard and a mother who was never found–that’s all Stone Molony knows about his birth. But now he needs to know more. A tragic accident has awakened a powerful gift inside him that changes everything. As the town stirs up around him, Stone journeys through corruption, racism, and violence to uncover the truth about his past.

 

brock booherAbout the author: Brock Booher grew up on a farm in rural Kentucky, the fourth of ten children, where he learned to work hard, use his imagination, and believe in himself. He left the farm to pursue the friendly skies as a pilot, and currently flies for a major US carrier. A dedicated husband and father of six children, he began writing out of sheer arrogance, but the writing craft quickly humbled him. During that process, he discovered that he enjoyed writing because it is an endeavor that can never quite be mastered. He still gladly struggles everyday to improve his writing and storytelling skills.

Find Mr. Booher here: Facebook, Twitter, web, blogGoodreads

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Book Club Recap: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

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Welcome to a new feature here at EFC. Belinda and I are in a book group/club together; it’s how we met. It’s called Ladies Book Group–creative, I know. She agreed to write a recap of what our group discussed at our monthly get-together.

Anyway . . . I’m hoping this will become a regular feature. (Hint, hint, Belinda! 🙂 )

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. 

 

Our book group is a sisterhood of unlike minds who rarely agree on anything. We are incessantly loud, frequently brash, and always insightful. This month we discussed The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. Normally, I’d offer a review of our book of choice. But in this case, the story comes with the stamp of approval from Oprah Winfrey. I doubt my review would hold much water next to the big O – not that big O – concentrate!

Early in our discussion, our focus turned to modern slavery. Recent news coverage about at least 200 girls being abducted from their school in Nigeria by a group called Boko Harem triggered outrage among some women in our group. 

From there, the discussion meandered through such topics as aliens in New Mexico to Guinea pig poop in a recliner. However, for the purposes of this blog, I’ll stick to slavery.

It’s a topic we want to distance ourselves from. It’s safer to keep it in the past. But then there’s that one tenacious group member who keeps insisting, “It’s still happening now.” We had no choice but to discuss her concerns.

After our discussion, her assertions continued to resonate for me. The story about the Nigerian girls still dominated the headlines. So I did a little digging.

According to the Walk Free Foundation, 29.8 million people are currently enslaved around the globe. Mostly children forced to work in the sex trade. Groups like the Polaris Project work with the American Bar Association to offer pro bono services to survivors of slavery.

Novels like Anybody’s Daughter by Pamela Samuels Young describe a disturbingly accurate account of how sex slavery proliferates in the U.S. I suggested it for our book group discussion last month. They shot it down saying it’s too depressing. We went with a slavery book set in the 1800s instead. Confirming my suspicion that this is a topic more comfortably discussed from a distance.

For more information on modern slavery and how to combat it, visit:

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at www.missingkids.com
www.polarisproject.org 
www.walkfreefoundation.org

Visit us next month for a discussion on Brock Booher’s new book, Healing Stone

belindasig

 

invention of wingsThe Invention of Wings
written by Sue Monk Kidd
published by Viking Adult/Penguin

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

About the book – from Goodreads: Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid.We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty-five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.
As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.

This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.

Penguin has a great Book Club Guide that includes a Q&A with Ms. Kidd, a few recipes for your book club get-together, and other information. Check it out here!

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