All The Light We Cannot See

All The Light We Cannot See

All The Light We Cannot See

 Anthony Doerr  

Club Selection for March 2015

530 pages
Published May 6th 2014 by Scribner
 
Winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize For Fiction
From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.

 

About the Author

Photo from Tweeds Mag http://tweedsmag.org/interview-anthony-doerr/
Anthony Doerr

Anthony Doerr was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. He is the author of the story collections The Shell Collector and Memory Wall, the memoir Four Seasons in Rome, and the novels About Grace and All the Light We Cannot See, which was awarded the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the 2015 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction.

Doerr’s fiction has won four O. Henry Prizes and has been anthologized in The Best American Short StoriesThe Anchor Book of New American Short Stories, and The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Fiction. He has won the Barnes & Noble Discover Prize, the Rome Prize, the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an NEA Fellowship, the National Magazine Award for Fiction, three Pushcart Prizes, two Pacific Northwest Book Awards, three Ohioana Book Awards, the 2010 Story Prize, which is considered the most prestigious prize in the U.S. for a collection of short stories, and the Sunday Times EFGShort Story Award, which is the largest prize in the world for a single short story. In 2007, the British literary magazine Granta placed Doerr on its list of 21 Best Young American novelists.

Doerr lives in Boise, Idaho with his wife and two sons. Though he is often asked, as far as he knows he is not related to the late writer Harriet Doerr.

Source: anthonydoerr.com

Interviews & Other Cool Stuff

 

Official Book Trailer

 

 

What Does the Title Mean?

 “It’s a reference first and foremost to all the light we literally cannot see: that is, the wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum that are beyond the ability of human eyes to detect (radio waves, of course, being the most relevant). It’s also a metaphorical suggestion that there are countless invisible stories still buried within World War II — that stories of ordinary children, for example, are a kind of light we do not typically see. Ultimately, the title is intended as a suggestion that we spend too much time focused on only a small slice of the spectrum of possibility.”    ~ Anthony Doerr

 

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Anthony Doerr sees the world as a scientist, but feels it as a poet. He knows about everything—radios, diamonds, mollusks, birds, flowers, locks, guns—but he also writes a line so beautiful, creates an image or scene so haunting, it makes you think forever differently about the big things—love, fear, cruelty, kindness, the countless facets of the human heart. Wildly suspenseful, structurally daring, rich in detail and soul, Doerr’s new novel is that novel, the one you savor, and ponder, and happily lose sleep over, then go around urging all your friends to read—now.

~ JR Moehringer, author of The Tender Bar

 

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THE RUMPUS INTERVIEW WITH ANTHONY DOERR

BY NANCY SMITH | May 28th, 2014

… I first encountered Doerr’s work a decade ago when I picked up a copy of The Shell Collector at a small bookstore in Seattle. I carried the book to a nearby coffee shop and spent the rainy afternoon reading it. I had recently graduated college, and I’m not sure if it was my uncertain future or the gloomy day, but this collection of stories had a profound effect on me. I found a precise kind of truth within those pages—the kind that captures human experience in only the way perfectly crafted stories can. I reveled in those wonderful sentences that afternoon, and since then I have always looked forward to reading Doerr’s work.

… All the Light We Cannot See is a book that was ten years in the making, and it is a remarkable novel, but perhaps more than anything, it has reminded me of Doerr’s extraordinary ability to bring together the elements—rhythm and imagery and tone—to somehow perfectly capture the most mysterious parts of our experience—love and fear and fate—with something so simple as a sentence. … [Read the Interview]

 

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An Evening with Anthony Doerr

A captivating presentation by Anthony Doerr to the John Adams Institute, Amsterdam.  A jewel of a speech in itself, the question and answer period with the audience contains profound depth and insight. A definite must-listen!
A Masterpiece. Tremendous. Wow. Overwhelming.

“Just a few characterizations by readers of Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. And the literary critics were also unanimous: Anthony Doerr has an immense talent for storytelling.

The story follows a blind precocious French girl and a scientifically minded German boy whose paths intertwine during the German occupation of France. At its core this is the story of two young, innocent children who are forced into the ugliness of war, both of them victims in some way, neither of them innocent for long. Told from their alternating points of view, building the foundation of the story brick by brick and adding layer upon layer, the writing is captivating and stays with you long after closing the book.  A “hauntingly beautiful new book,” according to New York Times’ Janet Maslin.

Join us for an evening with one of America’s best storytellers.”

 

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An Unforgettable Highlight for the Author

“Among multiple outstanding experiences at Lake Oswego Reads [Feb 12, 2015] (hosted by the amazing Lake Oswego Public Library), an unforgettable highlight was being handed a warm loaf of bread by master baker Dominique Geulin from St. Honoré Boulangerie. I carried it back home, sliced it, and look what we found inside!”

Discussion Questions

Source: Simon and Schuster

1. The book opens with two epigraphs. How do these quotes set the scene for the rest of the book? Discuss how the radio plays a major part in the story and the time period. How do you think the impact of the radio back then compares with the impact of the Internet on today’s society?

2. The narration moves back and forth both in time and between different characters. How did this affect your reading experience? How do you think the experience would have been different if the story had been told entirely in chronological order?

3. Whose story did you enjoy the most? Was there any character you wanted more insight into?

4. When Werner and Jutta first hear the Frenchman on the radio, he concludes his broadcast by saying “Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever” (pages 48–49), and Werner recalls these words throughout the book (pages 86, 264, and 409). How do you think this phrase relates to the overall message of the story? How does it relate to Madame Manec’s question: “Don’t you want to be alive before you die?” (page 270)?

5. On page 160, Marie-Laure realizes “This . . . is the basis of his fear, all fear. That a light you are powerless to stop will turn on you and usher a bullet to its mark.” How does this image constitute the most general basis of all fear? Do you agree?

6. Reread Madame Manec’s boiling frog analogy on page 284. Etienne later asks Marie-Laure, “Who was supposed to be the frog? Her? Or the Germans?” (page 328) Who did you think Madame Manec meant? Could it have been someone other than herself or the Germans? What does it say about Etienne that he doesn’t consider himself to be the frog?

7. On page 368, Werner thinks, “That is how things are . . . with everybody in this unit, in this army, in this world, they do as they’re told, they get scared, they move about with only themselves in mind. Name me someone who does not.” But in fact many of the characters show great courage and selflessness throughout the story in some way, big or small. Talk about the different ways they put themselves at risk in order to do what they think is right. What do you think were some shining moments? Who did you admire most?

8. On page 390, the author writes, “To shut your eyes is to guess nothing of blindness.” What did you learn or realize about blindness through Marie-Laure’s perspective? Do you think her being blind gave her any advantages?

9. One of Werner’s bravest moments is when he confronts von Rumpel: “All your life you wait, and then it finally comes, and are you ready?” (page 465) Have you ever had a moment like that? Were you ready? What would you say that moment is for some of the other characters?

10. Why do you think Marie-Laure gave Werner the little iron key? Why might Werner have gone back for the wooden house but left the Sea of Flames?

11. Von Rumpel seemed to believe in the power of the Sea of Flames, but was it truly a supernatural object or was it merely a gemstone at the center of coincidence? Do you think it brought any protection to Marie-Laure and/or bad luck to those she loved?

Happy Reading!

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Red Butterfly

Red Butterfly
Source: Goodreads.com

Red Butterfly

 A.L. Sonnichsen  

Club Selection for February 2017

Pages: 400 
Published February 2nd 2016 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
 
A young orphaned girl in modern-day China discovers the meaning of family in this “heartbreaking, heartwarming, and impressive debut” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) told in verse, in the tradition of Inside Out and Back Again and Sold.

Kara never met her birth mother. Abandoned as an infant, she was taken in by an American woman living in China. Now eleven, Kara spends most of her time in their apartment, wondering why she and Mama cannot leave the city of Tianjin and go live with Daddy in Montana. Mama tells Kara to be content with what she has…but what if Kara secretly wants more?

Told in lyrical, moving verse, Red Butterfly is the story of a girl learning to trust her own voice, discovering that love and family are limitless, and finding the wings she needs to reach new heights.

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Carol's Rating:  ★★★★★

"Don't worry if your new life has been tough.
Remember, it takes a while for a butterfly's wings to dry."

Every once in a while a book comes along that imprints itself in you and changes you forever. This is one of them.

A tender, tragic, relishing story of hope, isolation, adaptation, kindness, and love in a world where harsh political policies have triggered harsh choices and consequences for families and children. Though a fictional story about a young Chinese girl being raised in China as an American, it truthfully tells of ethical decisions faced by many in China since the One-Child policy was placed into effect in 1980. There are many questions about the characters that are answered with flawless timing as the story beautifully unfolds at a perfect tempo, keeping you intrigued, hopeful, and deeply moved. The Author's Note at the end of the book is powerful and added yet another layer of love and understanding to the story.

I borrowed this booked from our local library but it is one of the few that I will buy and place on my own shelf where I will see it, re-read it, and experience it again and again.

Happy Reading!

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Inside Out & Back Again

Inside Out & Back Again
Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai - Book Cover
Source: Goodreads.com

Inside Out & Back Again

Thanhha Lai

Club Selection for February 2017

Pages: 272 | Audio: 2 hrs 30 min
Published February 22nd 2011 by HarperCollins
 
For all the ten years of her life, Hà has only known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, and the warmth of her friends close by. But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. Hà and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope. In America, Hà discovers the foreign world of Alabama: the coldness of its strangers, the dullness of its food . . . and the strength of her very own family.
 

 

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Carol's Rating:  ★★★

Don't Pass This One By

This is a touching story of Vietnamese family that comes to America for refuge due to the fall of Saigon. Ten year old Ha tells her story in verse, which perfectly conveys the young voice of a child facing mature circumstances and events; her father is missing in action, her mother is doing her best to provide for and protect the family on her own, her country no longer exists, her new home in America is safety yet completely unfamiliar, her family must learn to accept assistance and the generosity of many and overlook cruelties inflicted by others, and Ha must learn to compromise, be grateful, and discover that love and family is the ultimate definition of home.

Ha is an adorable, spunky character that bristles at being told she cannot do something simply because she is a girl. She is smart, yet struggles with feeling stupid due to language and cultural barriers. Her moments in the sunshine are delightful. Best of all, is after having fallen in love with Ha, I discovered she was actually the talented author of this book and these were her experiences.

A wonderful, wonderful story for all ages that you won't want to miss.

Happy Reading!

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Books of the Month – March 2017

Books of the Month – March 2017

Books of the Month - March 2017

Books of the Month - March 2017 - Novel Gobblers Book Club

Wow! March is over already? Did it zip by for you, too? One of the best parts about March was that I finished three books and enjoyed them all. It's my goal this year to work my way through The Henry Family series by Henry Wouk. They are big books so I'm taking my time and trying to absorb as much as I can - it's so interesting! I finished volume one and have now started volume two. I also read A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman and All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy, which was our book club selection and boy, did it ever generate a great discussion. Have you read any of these books? Which books did you enjoy this month?

Some of the books I read are featured in our The Book & Beyond section.  That's where you'll find interesting things about and even beyond the book. I'd love to feature every book I read in The Book & Beyond section but somehow life has happened and I've fallen very behind. 🙂  I promise I'm working to catch up! Even so, you'll want to check out what's there when you're done here - tons of fascinating stuff!

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The Winds of War (The Henry Family, #1)The Winds of War by Herman Wouk
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An Impactful Must-Read. This is How History Should be Told

If you're looking for an impactful, compelling, unputdownable, entertaining family drama packed with historical facts leading up to and into WWII, this is the book! I learned more about WWII from this book than from any other. Most history books tend to be a snooze for me, regardless of how badly I want to learn the information. But not this one. Herman Wouk is masterful storyteller. His telling of history works because he humanizes it. You experience it through his characters.

Members of the fictional Henry family are completely believable characters; some lovable, some admirable, some total morons, and all with flaws we can relate to. As the members of this military family are spread across the world, we learn about the struggles of those affected by the war be it due to location, heritage, or personal convictions. We learn about the political players and strategic political plays. We learn historical details from different characters with different perspectives. I especially enjoyed that some chapters were devoted to Victor Henry's translation of "World Empire Lost", a history book written by a fictional German general, Armin von Roon, and to which Victor Henry offers his own insights.

My review hardly does justice to this book. But believe me, you don't want to pass this one by. This is how history should be told.

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A Man Called OveA Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"They say the best men are born of their faults and that they often improve later on, more than if they'd never done anything wrong."

What a delightful read! I thoroughly enjoyed this story. The characters were colorful and true. I enjoyed Backman's writing style; direct, engaging, and beautifully conveys the personalities, trials, and hearts of the characters. A truly heart-warming story of loving people beyond their faults - or maybe even because of them, whether you intend to or not.

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All the Pretty Horses (The Border Trilogy, #1)All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"Every dumb thing I ever done before in my life there was a decision I made before that got me into it."

Despite the pretty title, this is a tough story. John Grady Cole has lost his grandfather and the ranch will be sold. It's all John has ever known. He's a cowboy and that's all he ever wants to be. So he and his cousin, both about 17 years old, leave Texas and ride their horses across the border into Mexico. It's 1949. In Texas they tie their horses up outside cafes and gas stations. The moment they cross into Mexico, they step back in time. Desert. Cactus. No motor vehicles, few settlements. The people they meet lead them to hard life and hard choices; some of them life threatening.

I am so glad I read this book. There were many things I loved about it but many things I didn't. What did I love? The contradictory nature. The depth of the story and characters yet the direct, no frills conversations with little show of emotion. The action yet the slow pace. The beauty yet the harshness. I loved that once they passed into Mexico, the descriptions of the land and many of the discussions between the characters we given in Spanish. There was a very distinct feel that you were no longer in Texas nor in 1949! I liked the boys and was impressed with their maturity at such a young age.

What didn't I love? The lack of quotations caused a lot of confusion for me about who was speaking. At times the story would jump forward to a new scene, leaving me confused about how we got there. McCarthy offers beautiful language but the story is not a lullaby like the title implies. It's not a happy story and I was I left with a strong hope that John Grady Cole will somehow find his place and his happiness.

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Hungry for more? Check out  The Book and Beyond,  The Books We've Read, or See all my reviews on Goodreads .

 

Happy Reading!

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Books of the Month – February 2017

Books of the Month – February 2017

Books of the Month - February 2017

A friend gifted me this adorable Owl Calendar by Debbie Mumm and I love it so much that I decided to use it as the backdrop for my new Books of the Month posts. At the end of each month, I'll post about the books I read that month along with a short review of each.  Have you read them? What did you think?  Join in on the fun and leave us a comment!

Some of these books will be featured in our The Book & Beyond section, too. I'd love to tell you that all the books I read will be found in The Book & Beyond but in reality, that probably won't happen.  Even so, you'll want to check out the ones that do make it - there's tons of fascinating stuff in there!

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HMS Nightingale (Alexis Carew, #4)HMS Nightingale by J.A. Sutherland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Swashbuckling Interstellar Adventures

In this, the 4th volume, Alexis is promoted to lieutenant and given charge of her own ship only to discover her crew to be a ragtag group of misfits with questionable sailing skills. Facing many challenges in her new role, Alexis leads her crew through exciting encounters, many with pirates and some with - Wait! Could it really be? Ghostly Flying Dutchmen?!

Entertaining and intriguing as always, the story is brought to life by Elizabeth Klett's stellar audio narration. While I enjoyed this book, I enjoyed it less than the other volumes. This is mainly because there seemed to be less of an emotional connection developed between the characters and I felt certain phrases were overused. Still, this volume is important in the overall story and ends with fabulous news - more volumes are coming!

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Red ButterflyRed Butterfly by A.L. Sonnichsen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"Don't worry if your new life has been tough.
Remember, it takes a while for a butterfly's wings to dry."

Every once in a while a book comes along that imprints itself in you and changes you forever. This is one of them.

A tender, tragic, relishing story of hope, isolation, adaptation, kindness, and love in a world where harsh political policies have triggered harsh choices and consequences for families and children. Though a fictional story about a young Chinese girl being raised in China as an American, it truthfully tells of ethical decisions faced by many in China since the One-Child policy was placed into effect in 1980. There are many questions about the characters that are answered with flawless timing as the story beautifully unfolds at a perfect tempo, keeping you intrigued, hopeful, and deeply moved. The Author's Note at the end of the book is powerful and added yet another layer of love and understanding to the story.

I borrowed this booked from our local library but it is one of the few that I will buy and place on my own shelf where I will see it, re-read it, and experience it again and again.

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A Fall of MarigoldsA Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Unpredictable & Unputdownable

Two periods in time, 100 years apart, uniquely linked by a delicate piece of fabric; a scarf, embellished with marigolds, weaving it's way through time and tying together the lives of all whose hands through which it passes. Lovely, delicate, fragile, strong, resilient. These words describe the scarf and the characters that have experienced harrowing, tragic events and work to move beyond the emotional outfall.

At times, I was bewildered by the actions of the characters, which to me seemed foolish and nonsensical. But in contemplation, the reality is that the emotional havoc wreaked on those who experience traumatic events often causes illogical thinking and actions. The story is realistic and lovely, and seamlessly accomplishes the highest objective for the reader - to truly empathize with the characters and experience their story along with them.

Meissner is a masterful storyteller, reminding us that large and small acts of kindness can spark powerful hope and strength in ways that is often unseen by the giver.
"Love is the only true constant in a fragile world."

Read it. You'll be all the better for it.

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Inside Out & Back AgainInside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Don't Pass This One By

This is a touching story of Vietnamese family that comes to America for refuge due to the fall of Saigon. Ten year old Ha tells her story in verse, which perfectly conveys the young voice of a child facing mature circumstances and events; her father is missing in action, her mother is doing her best to provide for and protect the family on her own, her country no longer exists, her new home in America is safety yet completely unfamiliar, her family must learn to accept assistance and the generosity of many and overlook cruelties inflicted by others, and Ha must learn to compromise, be grateful, and discover that love and family is the ultimate definition of home.

Ha is an adorable, spunky character that bristles at being told she cannot do something simply because she is a girl. She is smart, yet struggles with feeling stupid due to language and cultural barriers. Her moments in the sunshine are delightful. Best of all, is after having fallen in love with Ha, I discovered she was actually the talented author of this book and these were her experiences.

A wonderful, wonderful story for all ages that you won't want to miss.

Last year we read The Sympathizer, Viet Thanh Nguyen's 2016 Pulitzer Prize winning novel. It is also set at the time of the fall of Saigon yet gives an adult perspective to the story. It was interesting to compare the differences between the characters and their experiences in these two books. See more about The Sympathizer.

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Hungry for more? Check out  The Book and Beyond,  The Books We've Read, or See all my Goodreads reviews.

 

Happy Reading!

Wondrous Words Wednesday – February 15

Wondrous Words Wednesday – February 15

 

Have you learned some new words lately?  Share them at Wondrous Words Wednesday (hosted by Bermudaonion.net). “Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading."

I am super excited to tell you about several new words from my reading this week.

 
First, I came across 3 new words in HMS Nightingale by JA Sutherland, with two of them in a single sentence!
 
"Alexis felt as though she was treading waters filled with sharks; sharks and a particularly vapid remora."
 
  • vap·id /adjective/ offering nothing that is stimulating or challenging.
  • rem·o·ra /noun/  a slender marine fish that attaches itself to large fish by means of a sucker on top of its head. It generally feeds on the host's external parasites.

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Alexis uses this next word often, especially when commanding her crew. Of course, "instant" and "instantly" are not new to me but I had never heard someone use "instanter" until I read this series.

"See the men back on the boat. Instanter!"

  •  in·stan·ter - adverb     Without delay; instantly.

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Lastly, I heard the following new word in the audiobook The Winds of War by Herman Wouk, but I can't remember the actual sentence so here's a generic example of how it's used.
 
 
 "All this is so anodyne as to be completely unobjectionable."
 
  • an·o·dyne  /adjective/  Not likely to cause offense or disagreement and somewhat dull.
  • an·o·dyne  /noun/  A painkilling drug or medicine.

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Don't you love it when your reading expands your vocabulary?

What Wondrous new Words did you learn this week?

Happy Reading!

 

 

 

 

WWW Wednesday: February 8th

WWW Wednesday: February 8th

WWW Wednesday: 8th of February 2017

The WWW Wednesday blog-hop is currently hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words.

It’s a great  way to do a weekly update, connect with other book lovers,  and see what they’re reading this week.

How does it work?

Just answer the three questions in the comments/reply section below for others to look at. Be sure to leave a link to your blog post. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses.

Please, take some time to read the comments and visit the participant blogs  so you can see what others are reading. You can also pop over to Sam’s blog, Taking on a World of Words, to see where it all started.

 

To take part all you have to do is answer the following three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

What I’m Currently Reading

 

 

I’m listening to the audiobook narrated by Elizabeth Klett. She delivers a spectacular performance for an equally spectacular story.

I LOVE THIS SERIES.  Here’s why.  

 

 

 

 

 

One of my goals this year is to slowly work my way through both Herman Wouk’s volumes of The Henry Family Series – #1 The Winds of War and #2 War and Remembrance. It’s a fascinating story and wonderful account of history leading up to and into WWII. I’m learning a ton and enjoying it!

 

 

 

What I Recently Finished Reading

 

Simply Terrific. Both of them.

Click below to find out why they are now among my favorites.

The Invention of Wings

Red Butterfly

 

 

 What I Might Read Next

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you read any of these? Did you enjoy them?

What’s your WWW for this week?

Be sure to leave your link and a comments below (if you’re so inclined) and visit the blog posts of other participants. 

 

The Invention of Wings

The Invention of Wings

The Invention of Wings

Sue Monk Kidd

Club Selection for January 2017

Pages: 384 / Audio: 13 hrs 46 min

From the celebrated author of The Secret Life of Bees, a magnificent novel about two unforgettable American women

Writing at the height of her narrative and imaginative gifts, Sue Monk Kidd presents a masterpiece of hope, daring, the quest for freedom, and the desire to have a voice in the world—and it is now the newest Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 selection.

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.


Carol's Rating:  ★★★★★

"My body might be a slave, but not my mind. For you, it's the other way around."

This beautiful, moving story of hope and courage stirred my heart and mind through and through. I listened to the audiobook where narrators Jenna Lamia and Adepero Oduye give a dazzling performance and portrayal of two young women; one white, one black; the same age, the same time period, the same plantation - yet living in two separate worlds of expectations and both yearning for freedom.

The story is rich in symbolism and purpose. "She (mauma) use to say, you got to figure out which end of the needle you gon be, the one that's fastened to the thread or the end that pierces the cloth." I became emotionally connected to these fabulous characters as they took measures to protect their minds and spirits from being broken by society throughout their journeys to stay true to their convictions for human rights. I learned that Sarah and Nina Grimke were true historical figures. I learned about Denmark Vecey, story quilts, and spirit trees. I learned once again that we are all "meant to do something in the world, something larger than (ourselves)".

Read it. You'll love it, too.

About the Author

Sue Monk Kidd lived one of those perfect, small town, southern childhoods (except for the swarm of bees in the walls of her 100-year-old house).

She could walk to the drugstore and charge a cherry Coke to her father. Or to Empire Mercantile and charge a pair of cheerleader socks to her mom. By the time she got home, her parents would know what color socks she’d bought and what size Coke she’d drunk.

But the 1964 Civil Rights Movement changed Sue’s idyll forever. Her high school class became the first to integrate. She was 16 and old enough to understand racism’s cruelty. It stayed with her.

In 1970, Sue earned a B.S. in Nursing from Texas Christian University. She worked as nurse, met her husband, Sanford (Sandy), a Baptist minister, and had two children.

In her 30s, she left nursing for full-time mothering, taught Sunday School, and wrote inspirational essays for Guideposts Christian magazine. They led to her first memoir, God’s Joyful Surprise, published at age 40. Source: Debra Eve's Late Bloomer

In her forties, Kidd turned her attention to writing fiction, winning the South Carolina Fellowship in Literature and the 1996 Poets & Writers Exchange Program in Fiction. Her short stories appeared in TriQuarterly, Nimrod, and other literary journals and received a Katherine Anne Porter award and citations in Best American Short Stories’ 100 Distinguished Stories.

Since then she has written several bestsellers such as The Secret Life of Bees (2002), The Mermaid Chair (2005), Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story (2009), and The Invention of Wings (2014).  Her novels have earned international acclaim and multiple literary awards as well as some having been adapted into award wining movies.

Kidd serves on the Writers Council for Poets & Writers, Inc.  She lives in Southwest Florida with her husband, Sandy, and dog, Barney.   Source: Suemonkkidd.com

 

Interviews & Other Cool Stuff

After reading The Invention of Wings, I was motivated to learn more about the author and the Grimke sisters. What inspired her to write the story? Where did her research begin and where did it take her? How did she come up with fictional characters and the structure of the story?

I discovered a lot of interesting booty!  I'm excited to share it with you - to take you deeper into, and even beyond the book.

Listen to this short, compelling NPR interview where Kidd offers loads of insight into the inspiration behind the story. Then keep scrolling to learn even more!

 

January 8, 2014
Heard on NPR:All Things Considered
Sue Monk Kidd's new novel is a story told by two women whose lives are wrapped together — beginning, against their wills, when they're young girls. One is a slave; the other, her reluctant owner. One strives her whole life to be free; the other rebels against her slave-owning family and becomes a prominent abolitionist and early advocate for women's rights.

The book, The Invention of Wings, takes on both slavery and feminism — and it's inspired by the life of a real historical figure.

 

Sue Monk Kidd provides a super cool Book Club Kit on her website that includes a conversation with the author, quotes, and recipes. Here are a few tidbits:

History is not just facts and events. History is also a pain in the heart and we repeat history until we are able to make another's pain in the heart our own."

~ Professor Julius Lester

I first came upon the Grimké sisters in 2007 while visiting Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum in New York. Their names were listed on the Heritage Panels, which honor 999 women who’ve made important contributions to western history. Later, I was astonished to discover they were from Charleston, South Carolina, the same city in which I was then living. Somehow I’d never heard of these two amazing women, but I immediately dove in, learning everything I could, and the more I learned, the more excited I became. I discovered that Sarah and Angelina were from a wealthy slave-holding family, at the top of the planter class, moving in the elite circles of society, and yet they broke with everything, their family, religion, homeland and traditions, and became the first female abolition agents in America and among the earliest feminist thinkers. They were, arguably, the most radical females to ever come out of the antebellum South. I fell in love with their story. I was especially drawn to Sarah. I was moved by how thoroughly life was arranged against her and what she overcame, by how deeply she yearned to have a voice in the world, by how utterly human she was, and how determinedly she invented her wings.

image of quilt by Harriet Powers
Story Quilt by Harriet Powers

....

I was inspired by the quilts of Harriet Powers, who was born into slavery in 1837 in Georgia. She used West African applique technique and designs to tell stories, mostly about Biblical events, legends, and astronomical occurrences. Each of the squares on her two surviving quilts is a masterpiece of art and narration. After viewing her quilt in the archives of the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., it seemed more than plausible to me that many enslaved women, who were forbidden to read and write, would have devised subversive ways to voice themselves, to keep their memories alive, and to preserve their African heritage. In the novel, Charlotte is the Grimke’s rebellious and accomplished seamstress, and I envisioned her using needle and cloth the way others use paper and pen, attempting to set down the events of her life in a single quilt. She appliques it with strange, beautiful images—slaves flying through the air, spirit trees with their trunks wrapped in red thread—but she also sews violent and painful images of her punishments and loss. The quilt in the novel is meant to be more than a warm blanket or a nice piece of handiwork. It is Charlotte’s story. As Handful says, “Mauma had sewed where she came from, who she was, what she loved, the things she’d suffered and the things she hoped. She’d found a way to tell it.

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Who Were The Grimke Sisters?

Louise W. Knight, author and historian, provides some great history about the sisters and even addresses the issue of the unflattering "photographs" of the women that are widely associated with them.  I was happy to see some different photos of them; ones taken when they were in their 70's (Sarah) and 60's (Angelina). Plus, if you're ever in Charleston, the Preservation Society offers a Grimke Sisters Tour. How cool is that?

Born near the turn of the 19th century, Sarah and Angelina Grimké were white Southern aristocrats of Charleston, South Carolina whose fate at birth seem sealed: by rights they should have married well, mothered many children and managed the slaves who ran their households.  Instead, they rejected slavery, which they hated, moved to Philadelphia, and converted to Quakerism, wrongly supposing that it continued to embrace the cause of antislavery. In time, rejected by the Quakers for their reform work, the sisters became social activists in the causes of abolition and ending racial prejudice. Making the principle that no man should have dominion over another man their own, they became the first American women to make a fully developed case against the oppression of women and for women's equal rights.

Sarah Grimké (1792-1873)

Sarah, the older sister, had a scholar's bent, with a judicious mind. Once she established her carefully arrived at conclusions, she never budged, regardless of the consequences. A deeply spiritual person, she was the more tender-hearted of the two sisters. Older by 13 years, Sarah devoted herself to Angelina's care and education to such a degree that Angelina called her "mother" until she reached her twenties.  One of the fascinating stories in the book is that of Angelina's influence on Sarah, her beloved and admired sister, at a crucial turning point in their lives. Sarah turned down two marriage proposals, her ambition being aimed in a more unusual direction - that of being a Quaker minister. Sarah was a moderately skilled speaker but her brilliant mind (she had aspired to be a judge, like their father) produced some of the strongest arguments for women's rights ever penned in her Letters on the Equality of the Sexes (1837/1838). She also published a moving pamphlet appealing to Christian ministers of the south to oppose slavery (1837). In  1838, she went to live with the newly married Angelina in Fort Lee, New Jersey, helped raise three children, taught in the schools Angelina and her husband Theodore Weld founded, and continued to engage  in social action -- particularly the growing women's rights movement of the 1850s, though rarely in person.

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Angelina Grimké (1805-1879)

Angelina was by instinct a woman of action, and a natural prosecutor, ready to make a forceful case. Compelled by her hunger for the truth, she possessed great courage in the face of condemnation. Though a gentle personality, she was also a passionate speaker who could command audiences of thousands with the force of her arguments and her unmatched eloquence. She published an appeal to (white) Christian women of the south to petition state legislatures to end slavery, and an appeal to white and black women of the north to join the abolitionist cause. She also was the first American woman to address a legislative body. The opening of her speech, in support of abolitionist petitions to the Massachusetts state legislature, is posted on this website under "Long form blog." (LINK). When she was 33 years old, and at the peak of her fame as a public speaker and organizer, Angelina  Grimké married the nation's most prominent abolitionist speaker and organizer, Theodore Weld. Now Angelina Grimké Weld, she and her sister lived with Theodore for the rest of their lives. They raised three children, founded and taught in many schools, and continued to engage in social action, although in less frequent and less prominent way.

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What about Those Famous Pictures of the Sisters?
  The images to the left (Sarah, far left, Angelina, immediate left) are widely used, both in books and on the internet.  The reason is that for many years they were the only images available. Furthermore, they appear to be of the period when the sisters were active in social change campaigns. The two photos above,  less frequently published, were taken when they were much older.

But there is a problem with these images. First of all, although they are frequently described as "photographs," they are not. They are not even daguerreotypes. Rather they are wood engravings based on daguerreotypes that have since disappeared. 

Thus the first question to ask about these images is -- Are they accurate as representations? The answer, obviously, is no.  Indeed, while I have yet to track down where these engravings were first published, it is very likely they appeared first in a periodical of the 1830s that disapproved of the sisters for being abolitionists and wished to portray them as peculiar and unappealing. This was a common practice of the time -- to draw people as ugly if you disapproved of their politics or, in the case of African Americans, of their race. I see these engravings more as political cartoons than as legitimate representations of the sisters.

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Southern Abolitionist Angelina Grimké | The Abolitionists

In this video adapted from the American Experience: “The Abolitionists,” featuring historical reenactments, learn about the daughter of South Carolina slaveholders who devoted her life to ending slavery and winning equal rights for women. Angelina Grimké and her sister Sarah drew upon their strong religious beliefs from an early age to oppose slavery in their native state and throughout the United States. After moving north, they became prominent writers and speakers in both the abolitionist movement and the struggle to obtain equal rights for women. This resource is part of the American Experience collection.

Book Club Mojo

Our entire reading group enjoyed reading and discussing The Invention of Wings.

We discussed how thankful we are for these women and the sacrifices they made toward equal rights that allow women and black people of today so many more freedoms than were ever experienced in their own time period. We talked of having to repress your aspirations for the sake of societal expectations, the alternating perspectives of the two main characters, Sarah and Handful,  the complicated relationships between the characters, and how learning to read is a form of freedom in itself.

The topics led to further discussions about why groups of people oppress other groups of people, and why the oppressors will follow along with such behavior? We noted this to be a common thread among some of the books we've read, for example, The Handmaid's Tale, and yet how slavery and oppression have spanned nearly every culture and nationality from ancient times to the present. The WHY of it remains to be our biggest, unanswered question.

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"Who Said It?"
Generate some lively discussion with our fun activity filled with quotes from the book.

Download the PDF

 
 Here's another great way to get some discussion going.

The Invention of Wings is loaded with symbols representing deeply personal and empowering significance to the characters throughout the story. This short presentation by Juliana Bush highlights a few of them such as Sarah's fleur de lis button, needle and thread, Handful's rabbit-head cane, Charlotte's story quilt, and the spirit tree.

 

And of course, Discussion Questions from the Author!

Source: Suemonkkidd.com

1. The title The Invention of Wings was one of the first inspirations that came to Sue Monk Kidd as she began the novel. Why is the title an apt one for Kidd's novel? What are some of the ways that the author uses the imagery and symbolism of birds, wings, and flight?

2. What were the qualities in Handful that you most admired? As you read the novel, could you imagine yourself in her situation? How did Handful continue her relentless pursuit of self and freedom in the face of such a brutal system?

3. After laying aside her aspirations to become a lawyer, Sarah remarks that the Graveyard of Failed Hopes is "an all-female establishment." What makes her say so? What was your experience of reading Kidd's portrayal of women's lives in the nineteenth century?

4. In what ways does Sarah struggle against the dictates of her family, society, and religion? Can you relate to her need to break away from the life she had in order to create a new and unknown life? What sort of risk and courage does this call for?

5. The story of The Invention of Wings includes a number of physical objects that have a special significance for the characters: Sarah's fleur-de-lis button, Charlotte's story quilt, the rabbit-head cane that Handful receives from Goodis, and the spirit tree. Choose one or more of these objects and discuss their significance in the novel.

6. Were you aware of the role that Sarah and Angelina Grimke played in abolition and women's rights? Have women's achievements in history been lost or overlooked? What do you think it takes to be a reformer today?

7. How would you describe Sarah and Angelina's unusual bond? Do you think either one of them could have accomplished what they did on their own? Have you known women who experienced this sort of relationship as sisters?

8. Some of the staunchest enemies of slavery believed the time had not yet come for women's rights and pressured Sarah and Angelina to desist from the cause, fearing it would split the cause of abolition. How do you think the sisters should have responded to their demand? At the end of the novel, Sarah asks, "Was it ever right to sacrifice one's truth for expedience?"

9. What are some of the examples of Handful's wit and sense of irony, and how do they help her cope with the burdens of slavery?

10. Contrast Handful's relationship with her mother with the relationship between Sarah and the elder Mary Grimke. How are the two younger women formed-and malformed-by their mothers?

11. Kidd portrays an array of male characters in the novel: Sarah's father; Sarah's brother, Thomas; Theodore Weld; Denmark Vesey; Goodis Grimke, Israel Morris, Burke Williams. Some of them are men of their time, some are ahead of their time. Which of these male characters did you find most compelling? What positive and negative roles did they play in Sarah and Handful's evolvement?

12. How has your understanding of slavery been changed by reading The Invention of Wings? What did you learn about it that you didn't know before?

13. Sarah believed she could not have a vocation and marriage, both. Do you think she made the right decision in turning down Israel's proposal? How does her situation compare with Angelina's marriage to Theodore? In what ways are women today still asking the question of whether they can have it all?

14. How does the spirit tree function in Handful's life? What do you think of the rituals and meanings surrounding it?

15. Had you heard of the Denmark Vesey slave plot before reading this novel? Were you aware of the extent that slaves resisted? Why do you think the myth of the happy, compliant slave endured? What were some of the more inventive or cunning ways that Charlotte, Handful, and other characters rebelled and subverted the system?

16. The Invention of Wings takes the reader back to the roots of racism in America. How has slavery left its mark on American life? To what extent has the wound been healed? Do you think slavery has been a taboo topic in American life?

17. Are there ways in which Kidd's novel can help us see our own lives differently? How is this story relevant for us today?

Happy Reading!

The Wolf Border

The Wolf Border

The Wolf Border

Sarah Hall

Pages: 432 / Audiobook: 13 hrs 14 mins
Published June 9th 2015 by Harper

The award-winning author of The Electric Michelangelo returns with her first novel in nearly six years, a literary masterpiece about the reintroduction of wild wolves into the United Kingdom.

She hears them howling along the buffer zone, a long harmonic.
One leading, then many.
At night there is no need to imagine, no need to dream.
They reign outside the mind.

Rachel Caine is a zoologist working in Nez Perce, Idaho, as part of a wolf recovery project. She spends her days, and often nights, tracking the every move of a wild wolf pack—their size, their behavior, their howl patterns. It is a fairly solitary existence, but Rachel is content.

When she receives a call from the wealthy and mysterious Earl of Annerdale, who is interested in reintroducing the grey wolf to Northern England, Rachel agrees to a meeting. She is certain she wants no part of this project, but the Earl's estate is close to the village where Rachel grew up, and where her aging mother now lives in a care facility. It has been far too long since Rachel has gone home, and so she returns to face the ghosts of her past.

The Wolf Border is a breathtaking story about the frontier of the human spirit, from one of the most celebrated young writers working today.


Novel Gobblers Perspective

Carol's Rating:  ★★

Meatloaf & Potatoes not Steak and Lobster

And bland meatloaf and potatoes at that. This is not to say that the writing is not beautiful or that the story is not interesting, because it is. But it is in an everyday, matter of fact, plodding, monotone, deliberate way. I can see the brilliance of the symbolism between Racheal and the wolves; the need for freedom rather than captivity. It is clear that Rachael is a lone wolf, dedicated and loyal to her cause, yet the story did not allow me to connect with the characters at all. It was devoid of emotion. Any interaction with others is told briefly or completely skipped. Thomas Pendleton's actions near the end were a complete surprise to me and were the most exciting part of the story. I wanted so badly to love this book but the characters were kept at such a distance that it sadly prevented me from having anything beyond a flatline experience.

What Does It Mean?

The Wolf Border is full of vocabulary-building words. Here's just a few of them and their definitions.

  • encomium - [en-koh-mee-uh m] noun, plural encomiums, encomia; a formal expression of high praise; eulogy.
  • connubial - [kuh-noo-bee-uhl] adjective; of marriage or wedlock; matrimonial; conjugal: connubial love.
  • copse - [kops] noun; a thicket of small trees or bushes; a small wood.
  • tannoynoun; trademark a sound-amplifying apparatus used as a public-address system esp in a large building
  • pedant - [ped-nt] noun
    • 1. A person who makes an excessive or inappropriate display of learning
    • 2. A person who overemphasizes rules or minor details 
    • 3. A person who adheres rigidly to book knowledge without regard tocommon sense.
    • 4. Obsolete. a schoolmaster.

 

 

Have you learned some new words lately?  Share them at Wondrous Words Wednesday (hosted by Bermudaonion.net). “Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading.”

Happy Reading!

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Looking Back at 2016

Looking Back at 2016

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one."

~George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons.

 

What a fantastic year! We read 10 more books and added loads more to our To-Be-Read (TBR) lists. We discovered more about our world and each other through lively discussions, great food, and deepening friendships. What could be better than that?

Take a look back with us over the past year to see a bit of what happens when this super-cool group of book lovers meet to Read More, Discover More, and Enjoy More!

 

The Books We Read

The Handmaid's Tale Book Cover
The Life We Bury Book Cover

Member Faves

With so many different personalities and tastes in books, it's always fun to see which ones end up being favorites (or not so favorites!). 

 

DeeAnn
 
 
Eleanore & Park 
"We read many good books this year, but I think my favorite was Eleanor and Park. It was a delightful, yet haunting love story. There were parts that were sweet and funny, and could be anyone who has experienced young love."

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Kelly

 

I haveshtumCover_ two favorites for 2016.  First, SHTUM.  I have a coworker with
an autistic son and found this selection to really make me think about the challenges he faces every day--loving his son, caring for his son, and the financial and emotional challenges of providing for his son in the present and future.  This book gives us a glimpse of what life might be like loving someone with special needs. 

Second, The Art of Racing in the Rain.  I have to admit, after reading the description of the book among RacingRainthe other choices for the month--this read was not my first choice. But, as you can see, it was one of my favorites.  It was very easy to read and I found myself not wanting to put it down.  This book brings new meaning to seeing something from a different perspective.  Just when you think there are two sides to every story, there's a third--the dog's perspective.  The book was funny (why dogs eat stuffed animals), sad (the Mom dies), loving (a Dad's journey to keep his daughter), hateful (relatives trying to take a daughter from her father), driven (a man following his dream), and a tear jerker (it all works out in the end).  Just a great, warm story. 

I have loved participating in this book club.  Joining has provided a structured environment where I've enjoyed the opportunity to read books I wouldn't have chosen myself.  I tend towards reading non-fiction and while I still enjoy those books, I've found the selections chosen by members to be interesting, challenging, and the discussions at the meetings very engaging and satisfying."

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Catherine

 

Sympathizer

"My favorite was by far and away The Sympathizer. I learned a lot that I did not know before about this important period in history, including why the Vietnam War was fought and how the Vietnamese people felt about it.  It was interesting to hear a Vietnamese perspective for once, one that somewhat told "both" sides of the story. The central characters were extremely well developed, and overall it was an extremely well-written book.  I could not put the
 book down.

GoldfinchThe Handmaid's Tale Book Cover

My next favorite books from the book club were The Handmaid's Tale and The Goldfinch.

 
 

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Carol
 
 
"My favorite book this year was The Sun Also Rises. I loved Hemingway's writinHemingwayg style; he conveys so much in so few words. He gives powerful, short descriptions of surroundings and emotions. I was amused by the characters, often disturbed by their behavior, and slightly confused that there didn't seem to be a plot to the story. There is a lot of symbolism in the story that offers insight and depth to the otherwise aloof characters, but you have to pay attention to pick up on it. I didn't at first and thought the entire story was pretty shallow. Then in contemplation and discussion I began to understand the symbols and was taken aback at how clever Hemingway's writing was. In the end I loved the story and now realize why Hemingway is considered to be one of the greatest writers of the 20th century.  
 
I am super excited to have accomplished the 2016 Extreme Book Nerd Challenge through our public library; 50 books, each in a different category. I really enjoyed it, although I have never read at that pace before! A couple of my favorites from the challenge are The Alexis Carew Series by J.A. Sutherland, Victoria 4:30 by Cecil Roberts, and a wonderful first-time experience with a book written in verse,  Audacity by Melanie Crowder.

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Dawn

 

handmaid

"I love thSympathizere diversity of our book club and the selections.  As I look back at the year, there isn’t one book that stands out and says “this is my favorite”, unlike the previous year.  I’m grateful for our book club, the books that we read and the friendships we have built.  I did read the Sympathizer twice, just to make sure that I didn’t miss anything (as I was the host for that month).  I was shocked at the Handmaid’s Tale as I really don’t want to think of how quickly that could happen to us now.  

I did read (listened) to some others - most of them were enjoyable...Me Before You by Jojo MoyesThe Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle ZevinThe Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz, and A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, to name a few."

 

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Book Club Mojo

Our meetings this year were enjoyable, as always. The discussions were enlightening, the food was delicious, and the friendships are cherished. It's impossible to say any one meeting is better than another but there were a few I must mention, such as Kelly's unique and fun experience of having our book discussion in the hot tub and fishing laminated questions out of the water, an outstanding pilgrim's meal and highlights of Catherine and Sarah's 500 mile pilgrimage across Spain, and a couple group activities (a concert by the river and an evening of Bingo at a nearby casino).  Go Novel Gobblers! 

Here's a few snapshots of our get togethers. We'd have more for you but we're usually so involved in the meetings that we forget to take pictures!

Novel Travels Thru Space & Time

Where did our reading take us? Our literary travels crossed the globe and spanned the early 1900's to the not so distant future. Now that's a lot of space and time!  And what about physical travels? One of our members visited Pamplona, Spain as in The Sun Also Rises and carried our very own Rocky Livingstone 500 miles across Spain!

 

How to use the map: Hover over the red dots marking specific locations, click on the images to enlarge them, click on the x in the corner to close them, or even pan and zoom in the map to see more detail. Alternatively, you can scroll through the travel list shown below the map.

 

 

A pretty fantastic year, right?  Thanks for joining us.  Please stay awhile and come back often!

 

Read More ~ Discover More ~ Enjoy More

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The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid's Tale

Margaret Atwood

Pages: 311 pages / Audiobook: 11 hrs
Published March 16th 1998 by Anchor Books (first published 1985)

The Handmaid's Tale is not only a radical and brilliant departure for Margaret Atwood, it is a novel of such power that the reader will be unable to forget its images and its forecast. Set in the near future, it describes life in what was once the United States, now called the Republic of Gilead, a monotheocracy that has reacted to social unrest and a sharply declining birthrate by reverting to, and going beyond, the repressive intolerance of the original Puritans. The regime takes the Book of Genesis absolutely at its word, with bizarre consequences for the women and men of its population.
The story is told through the eyes of Offred, one of the unfortunate Handmaids under the new social order. In condensed but eloquent prose, by turns cool-eyed, tender, despairing, passionate, and wry, she reveals to us the dark corners behind the establishment's calm facade, as certain tendencies now in existence are carried to their logical conclusions. The Handmaid's Tale is funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing. It is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and tour de force. It is Margaret Atwood at her best.


Happy Reading!

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500 Rocky Miles Across Spain

500 Rocky Miles Across Spain

I decided Rocky gets lonely in my pocket all day with nothing but my Chapstick to keep him company. So I found him a girlfriend. Her name is (of course) Adrienne. Her surname can be Tardajos because that is the closest village to where I found her."

 

vzm-img_20160924_081045

Meet Rocky Livingstone.

Rocky is special to me. He and a bag of his friends were given to me by my grandparents. When grandpa retired, he and grandma began the hobby of rock polishing. They are both gone now and I treasure these smooth, shiny, colorfully patterned rocks now more than ever. I have them in a glass vase and every time I look them, or hold them in my hands, it feels like a warm hug.

This past summer my friends, Catherine, and her daughter, Sarah, traveled to Spain to walk the 500 mile Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. I was so excited and happy for them to experience such an adventure together.

I'd love to do something like this but for some reason, I don't travel very often. I recall my uncle having once told me, "The Sudweeks are travelers", and you know, he's right. That side of my family does seem to travel often -  far and wide. And not just touristy types of travel, but ones like visiting relatives in other countries, working in orphanages, living among the locals, hiking, and pilgrimaging. Why haven't I allowed myself to experience travel this way? I suppose it's seemed out of my reach. How silly is that? I decided then and there that I need to think more like a Sudweeks, and like Catherine and Sarah.

Then an idea came to me. I could begin making contributions to my family legacy right now, albeit vicariously this time. I pulled a polished rock from my vase and asked Catherine to carry it across Spain with her. She graciously accepted and slipped it into her pocket.

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The Adventure Begins!

July 8th - Salt Lake City Airport

Zoom in, zoom out, pan around and explore the map. Click on a point to display photos and captions. Click on individual photos to enlarge them. Click on the enlarged photo to display the scroll arrow. Click on the X in upper right corner of the enlarged photo to close it.

 

We've Got Mail!

A Postcard from Spain

Back at Home

August 2016

Just look at Catherine's big smile and tan! Rocky and his new friends, Adrianne and Shelly, look good, too. Catherine also brought home a Spanish coin for me.  SO COOL!   Thank you Catherine and Sarah for sharing your spectacular trip with us!

 

Read More ~ Discover More ~ Enjoy More

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Yes, Zachary, There is a Werewolf Grave

Yes, Zachary, There is a Werewolf Grave

"But shouldn't we wait and go see it tomorrow?", nervously queried 8-year old Zach as the late afternoon sun cast long shadows across the fallen October leaves on the cemetery grounds.

I reassured him that I would keep him safe and that this was something he would really enjoy seeing. Suddenly, we were upon it. The Werewolf Grave. And then it came in all it's glory, the moment I was waiting for - the anxious expression on Zach's face gave way to confusion, then comprehension. The light went on. He got it. With a big sigh he rolled his eyes at me and said, "Mom, you are so weird!" Haha! My mission was accomplished! That was nearly 20 years ago and it remains to be one of my favorite Halloween memories.

The Werewolf Grave has long been a landmark in our town and never fails to bring amused smiles to the faces of the curious. But what I love most is that it resides within the grounds of one of the oldest, most beautiful of cemeteries in our region and incorporates centuries of history.

It's difficult to see it clearly but the names read "WARE" and "WULF"

 

Last weekend Vi, my trusty bicycle, and I took a leisurely ride through the cemetery. We rode along every path, occasionally stopping to ponder about the lives whose names are engraved on the headstones. In the older sections of the cemetery there are groups of headstones engraved in Chinese and there are many headstones for babies that died in the 1800's. In addition to the Werewolf Grave, there are numerous others that we always stop at, namely those of my grandparents and other relatives, the Tautphaus family graves that overlook the adjacent park (originally built by the family as an "oasis in the desert" during the late 1800's and shared with the public), and a large heart-shaped headstone of a ten year old girl with her name, "Sadie", engraved in her own hand writing.

It may seem odd to you that I visit this place and ponder the minute clues given about those that lie here. But the beauty and history of this place always brings peace to my soul. Life is temporary. Yet lives endure time and influence the shape of all that comes after them.

 

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Tarta de Santiago (Almond Cake)

Tarta de Santiago (Almond Cake)
Print Recipe
Servings
6-8 people
Servings
6-8 people
Tarta de Santiago (Almond Cake)
Print Recipe
Servings
6-8 people
Servings
6-8 people
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a round cake pan.
  2. Mix first five ingredients in mixer. Pour into buttered cake pan and bake 50 minutes. Cool completely.
  3. Cut out a paper pattern of the St. James Cross (Google it). Put the paper pattern on the cake and sprinkle powdered sugar over the entire cake top. Remove paper pattern carefully to reveal cross design in cake.
Recipe Notes

Recipe courtesy of Catherine

The Sun Also Rises

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Gazpacho (cold tomato soup)

Gazpacho (cold tomato soup)
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A refreshing soup made of raw vegetables and served cold. It is widely eaten in Spain, particularly during the hot summers.
Servings
6 people
Servings
6 people
Gazpacho (cold tomato soup)
Print Recipe
A refreshing soup made of raw vegetables and served cold. It is widely eaten in Spain, particularly during the hot summers.
Servings
6 people
Servings
6 people
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients in blender till smooth. Chill in refrigerator and serve cold.
Recipe Notes

Recipe courtesy of Catherine

The Sun Also Rises

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Tapas – Fried Peppers

Tapas - Fried Peppers
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Padron peppers from Padron, Spain, are also called Lottery Peppers because about one in ten of these small green gems are wildly hot, while the rest are as mild as a green bell pepper. Some call this dish capsicum roulette. Delicious served alone or with hunks of crusty bread and slices of Manchego cheese.
Tapas - Fried Peppers
Print Recipe
Padron peppers from Padron, Spain, are also called Lottery Peppers because about one in ten of these small green gems are wildly hot, while the rest are as mild as a green bell pepper. Some call this dish capsicum roulette. Delicious served alone or with hunks of crusty bread and slices of Manchego cheese.
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Deep fry whole peppers in a hot skillet until fully cooked, blistered and turning brown. Put on paper towel to absorb grease. Sprinkle with salt. Serve.
Recipe Notes

Recipe courtesy of Catherine

The Sun Also Rises

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Tinto de Verano (Red Wine of Summer)

Tinto de Verano (Red Wine of Summer)
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A refreshing wine cocktail served in summer all over Spain.
Tinto de Verano (Red Wine of Summer)
Print Recipe
A refreshing wine cocktail served in summer all over Spain.
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Pour equal parts Tempranilla and Sparkling lemonade into ice filled glasses. Garnish with lemon wedges. Enjoy. Repeat.
Recipe Notes

Recipe courtesy of Catherine

The Sun Also Rises

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Apple Dumplings

Recipe by Ree, The Pioneer Woman

Apple Dumplings
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
6 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
40 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
40 minutes
Apple Dumplings
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
6 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
40 minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 people 10 minutes
Cook Time
40 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Peel and core apples. Cut each apple into 8 slices each. Roll each apple slice in a crescent roll. Place in a 9 x 13 buttered pan.
  2. Melt butter, then add sugar and barely stir. Add vanilla, stir, and pour entire mixture over apples.
  3. Pour Mountain Dew around the edges of the pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
  4. Serve with ice cream, and spoon some of the sweet sauces from the pan over the top.
Recipe Notes

WARNING: Prepare this dish at your own risk. It is beyond imaginable.

The Art of Racing in the Rain

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Copycat Panera Squash Soup

Copycat Panera Squash Soup
Print Recipe
Recipe by Mindi with SweetandSimpleLiving.com
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 25 min
Cook Time
35 min
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 25 min
Cook Time
35 min
Copycat Panera Squash Soup
Print Recipe
Recipe by Mindi with SweetandSimpleLiving.com
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 25 min
Cook Time
35 min
Servings Prep Time
4-6 people 25 min
Cook Time
35 min
Ingredients
Servings: people
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and lay a baking sheet to the side.
  2. Peel and seed the butternut squash and then cut into chunks. Peel and quarter the onion
  3. Toss squash and onion in the olive oil and then salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Spread mixture onto baking sheet into a single layer and cook for 20 minutes.
  5. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes. Once cooled off, puree squash and onion in a blender or food processor.
  6. In a large sauce pan, combine squash puree, pumpkin puree, vegetable broth, apple cider and heavy cream. Bring to a low boil over medium heat.
  7. Add the honey and spices and simmer for 10 minutes.
  8. Garnish with pumpkin seeds and serve warm.
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