Book Club with a Twist 2012

Well let’s take a quick peek back at 2011 shall we?

Peace & Plenty – Flew through this one and plan to read it again.  Good stuff in here.  I just need it to really stick.  The Silence of God – I’m always up for a novel on Russian history even if it’s recent history in this case the 1940s.   Good insight on church members in other countries and the story of  one family  in Russia.  Night by Elie Wiesel since I couldn’t make it through The Berlin Diaries – Disturbing and it’s a good thing it is.  Every high school student should have to read it.   A Night to Remember – I actually picked up a few things I didn’t know about the Titanic.   As You Like It – Somehow I skipped right over this.  Weird.  A Year By The Sea – I’m so buying a copy for each of my girlfriends this year!   Self Portrait:  Gene Tierney – Not only was she breathtakingly beautiful, she was breathtakingly honest.  Fascinating read.  Outlander Okay this began as  a labor of love, but I did end up enjoying it.  I’m just not likely to follow the series.  John Adams – Interesting, but I didn’t finish it.   Daughter of Fortune – Didn’t get past the first few chapters…  Ballet Shoes – I was shocked that I didn’t fall instantly in love with this one –didn’t finish it.  The Serpent’s Tale – Haven’t had time to attempt it again. 

 I would have said, during my week off that I would go back and read those books I had missed or re-attempt those I quit on, but frankly I had a pile of magazines and paperbacks calling my name and I’m done with self-flagellation.  Especially over goofy stuff like self-imposed book reports.  So, on to 2012!

 2012 Book Club List

[All overviews are from BarnesandNoble.com] the twist for the book is in parenthesis

JanuaryThe Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – (Yep.  I’m planning to see the movie.)  This came highly recommended from my 14 and 21 year olds.  “Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don’t live to see the morning?  In the ruins of a place once known asNorth America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. .  Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games,” a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she replaces her sister in representing her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed.” [Enjoyed it.]

February The Shack by Wm. Paul Young (Do something from the Missy Project)  “Mackenzie Allen Philips’ youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation, and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack’s world forever.” [Got right up to the end and couldn’t finish.]

MarchJane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte (See the movie)  “Poor and plain, Jane Eyre begins life as a lonely orphan in the household of her hateful aunt. Despite the oppression she endures at home, and the later torture of boarding school, Jane manages to emerge with her spirit and integrity unbroken. She becomes a governess at Thornfield Hall, where she finds herself falling in love with her employer—the dark, impassioned Mr. Rochester. But an explosive secret tears apart their relationship, forcing Jane to face poverty and isolation once again.” [Ran out of time and didn’t read this.]

 AprilDevil In The White City  by Erik Larson (Murder MysteryEdwardian Dinner) “…Larson intertwines the true tale of the 1893 World’s Fair and the cunning serial killer who used the fair to lure his victims to their death. Combining meticulous research with nail-biting storytelling, Erik Larson has crafted a narrative with all the wonder of newly discovered history and the thrills of the best fiction.”  I didn’t even realize it had been made into a movie until I read this blog and saw Leonardo di Caprio played the bad guy.  I’ll have to see it after I read the book.  [This was such a fascinating story and not in a good way!  The main character is a nutcase and the people that worked on the fair were geniuses who had a hard time getting it all to come together.  Bought his most recent book  In The Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and An American Family in Hitler’s Berlin]

 MayDarcy’s Passions by Regina Jeffers  (Boston Museum of Fine Arts) Regency England speaks of love and romance when Darcy’s Passions brings to life once again Jane Austen’s classic love story. An interpretation of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Darcy’s Passions tells the story from Mr. Darcy’s point of view…  Darcy’s Passions takes Fitzwilliam Darcy from his initial meeting with Elizabeth Bennet through the many misunderstandings, which define their relationship, eventually leading through her acceptance of his proposal. Unlike Austen’s summary, the courtship, the honeymoon and the marriage become part of Darcy’s transformation as the book takes the reader back to Pemberley, showingElizabeth claiming a “niche” in the estate’s history while Darcy learns love and control are not the same thing.  [I was surprised to find that I didn’t enjoy this one.] 

 

 JuneThe White Russian by Tom Bradby  (High Tea with Buckwheat Blini with Caviar AND visit the Hillwood Museum) January 1917—“With St. Petersburg on the brink of revolution, Sandro Ruzsky, the city’s chief police investigator, returns from exile in Siberia only to be assigned a grisly case: the bodies of a young couple found on the ice of the frozen River Neva, just outside the Tsar’s Winter Palace. Ruzsky’s investigation leads him dangerously close to the royal family and to the woman he loves, and he finds himself confronting both a ruthless killer and the ghosts of his past as he fights desperately to save all that he cares for.   With meticulous research and narrative skill Tom Bradby brilliantly re-creates the gilded salons and squalid tenements of St. Petersburg in the last days of the tsars. Evocative and thrilling, The White Russian is a tumultuous story of murder and betrayal in a city at the crossroads of history.”  [Bored.]

 JulyReading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi –  (Gather Friends for a “Favorite” Book Discussion) “Every Thursday morning for two years in the Islamic Republic of Iran, Azar Nafisi, a bold and inspired teacher, secretly gathered seven of her most committed female students to read forbidden Western classics. Some came from conservative and religious families, others were progressive and secular; some had spent time in jail. They were shy and uncomfortable at first, unaccustomed to being asked to speak their minds, but soon they removed their veils and began to speak more freely–their stories intertwining with the novels they were reading by Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Henry James, and Vladimir Nabokov. As Islamic morality squads staged arbitrary raids inTehran, as fundamentalists seized hold of the universities and a blind censor stifled artistic expression, the women in Nafisi’s living room spoke not only of the books they were reading but also about themselves, their dreams and disappointments.” [Interesting read.]

 August – Following Atticus by Tom Ryan (Hike a piece of the Applachian Trail) – “Middle-aged, overweight, and acrophobic newspaperman Tom Ryan and miniature schnauzer Atticus M. Finch are an unlikely pair of mountaineers, but after a close friend dies of cancer, the two pay tribute to her by attempting to climb all forty-eight of New Hampshire’s four-thousand-foot peaks twice in one winter while raising money for charity. In a rare test of endurance, Tom and Atticus set out on an adventure of a lifetime that takes them across hundreds of miles and deep into an enchanting but dangerous winter wonderland. Little did they know that their most difficult test would lie ahead, after they returned home. . .”  [Much more to do with the journey to find peace about his father than about the hiking.  Good read though.]

 SeptemberRomania: An Illustrated History by Nicolae Klepper (Dinner – Schnitzel and Mici) “This is a well-written and learned book that guides the popular reader throughRomania’s long and eventful history. All eras are covered: the stone, bronze, and iron ages; the classical period of the Dacians before, during, and after Roman rule; the long period of invasions during the Middle Ages; the principalities from the 14th century until 1821; and the periods of unification, communism, and post-communism.Romania’s cultural history is included too, with accounts of writers, artists, and musicians.”  [Started this one before the month began, and I don’t know who did the translating on this but it reads badly.  I’m just picking and choosing, because it’s much too difficult to follow.]

 October – The Autobiography of Henry the VIII by Margaret George (Visit the Higgins Armory Museum) “Much has been written about the mighty, egotistical Henry VIII: the man who dismantled the Church because it would not grant him the divorce he wanted; who married six women and beheaded two of them; who executed his friend Thomas ore; who sacked the monasteries; who longed for a son and neglected his daughters, Mary and Elizabeth; who finally grew fat, disease-ridden, dissolute. Now, in her magnificent work of storytelling and imagination Margaret George bring us Henry VIII’s story as he himself might have told it, in memoirs interspersed with irreverent comments from his jester and confident, Will Somers. Brilliantly combining history, wit, dramatic narrative, and an extraordinary grasp of the pleasures and perils of power, this monumental novel shows us Henry the man more vividly than he has ever been seen before.”  OR The Wars of the Roses by Alison Weir – “Lancaster and York. For much of the fifteenth century, these two families were locked in battle for control of the English throne. Kings were murdered and deposed. Armies marched on London. Old noble names were ruined while rising dynasties seized power and lands. The war between the royal houses of Lancaster and York, the most complex in English history, profoundly altered the course of the monarchy. Alison Weir, one of the foremost authorities on British history, brings brilliantly to life both the war itself and the larger-than-life figures who fought it on the great stage of England. The Wars of the Roses is history at its very best—swift and compelling, rich in character, pageantry, and drama, and vivid in its re-creation of an astonishing period of history.”

November – Walking with Frodo by Sarah Arthur – (Rewatch the Lord of the Rings and go see The Hobbit)  “Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings epic tale has long captivated readers with its parallels to biblical truth. And now, a new addition to the thirsty(?) line, Walking with Frodo looks at the biblical themes found in the classic Lord of the Rings trilogy. The 18 devotions pair vices and virtues (deception vs. honesty, light vs. darkness, good vs. evil) displayed by characters in The Lord of the Rings and bring to light what the Bible has to say. A must-have for longtime and new series fans.”

 DecemberLittle Women -Louisa May Alcott (visit Orchard House ) “Generations of readers young and old, male and female, have fallen in love with the March sisters of Louisa May Alcott’s most popular and enduring novel, Little Women. Here are talented tomboy and author-to-be Jo, tragically frail Beth, beautiful Meg, and romantic, spoiled Amy, united in their devotion to each other and their struggles to survive in New England during the Civil War.  It is no secret that Alcott based Little Women on her own early life. While her father, the freethinking reformer and abolitionist Bronson Alcott, hobnobbed with such eminent male authors as Emerson, Thoreau, and Hawthorne, Louisa supported herself and her sisters with “woman’s work,” including sewing, doing laundry, and acting as a domestic servant. But she soon discovered she could make more money writing. Little Women brought her lasting fame and fortune, and far from being the “girl’s book” her publisher requested, it explores such timeless themes as love and death, war and peace, the conflict between personal ambition and family responsibilities, and the clash of cultures between Europe and America.”

 Keep in mind that I have a host of other books that I’m reading not as part of the book club:  Steve Jobs biography (so far he’s a jerk), The Valcourt Heiress (saving this for a bad or blah day since Coulter’s one of my faves and my brother gave it to me), Christmas Night(collection of romance stories), PD James the Cordelia Gray mysteries (well the first two anyway) – I haven’t read her before and in point of fact didn’t realize the author was a she until a recent Barnes and Noble trip when my friend Gail corrected me.  The Resolution for Women (based on the movie Courageous which I missed at theaters but can’t wait to own) and The Happiness Project (more on that later).

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