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Showing posts from May, 2015

Book Club Picks: How Book Clubs Pick Books

Welcome to my weekly series: Book Club Picks. This week, I'm taking a break from sharing lists of books and am talking about how book clubs choose books, along with the pros and cons of different methods. If you're putting together a new book club, or looking for new ways to choose books in an existing club, read on for some ideas.



How to choose book club selectionsWho decides what your book club is going to read for any given meeting? Here are a few ways you can make those decisions.

1. Host decides One option is to have the host choose what book will be discussed at her or his meeting. Usually book clubs have a different host for each meeting, whether the group meets at each other's homes or in a public location. One person usually leads the discussion. In this case, that host would choose the book for the meeting.
Pros: The host gets to discuss a book they want to read. It's a simple decision that only involves one person instead of getting a group of people to agre…

Book Review: The Treasure at Devil's Hole by Jody M. Mabry

Francis "Bug" Mosser knows the Sikeston Outlaw Gang's treasure is hidden near his home and he's determined to find it with the help of his brothers and his best friend. They go down into Devil's Hole looking for it, but their mom comes along and makes them go home before they can find anything. Unfortunately, there are others looking for the treasure too, which means they're in for a big adventure.

The Treasure at Devil's Hole by Jody M. Mabry is an exciting middle grade historical fiction novel that takes place in 1946. It's a book about a treasure hunt, a bully, bad guys and friendship. There's even a little love thrown in, although my son who read the book didn't seem to notice much! The characters are all a bit quirky, from Bug's brother Tom, who is always digging, to the bully Tad who appears to be up to something, and the teacher's new boyfriend who doesn't seem to fit in.

My son Carter, who is 11, read this book and says i…

Armchair BEA: Day 1 Introductions

Today, many of the book bloggers I follow are in New York City at Book Expo America (BEA). I seriously considered going this year. I've never been. But then we filled our summer with several trips and I decided I really didn't need to be traveling even more! So here I am participating once again in the Armchair BEA. What is Armchair BEA? Here's an explanation from their website:
Armchair BEA is the experience for book bloggers to participate in Book Expo America (BEA) from the comfort of their homes. This experience is created lovingly by book bloggers specifically for our peers who for whatever reason are not able to participate in the main conference in New York each year. We bring publishers, authors, and bloggers together in celebrating our love for all things literary by hosting celebrations such as sneak peeks, daily discussion topics, and sponsored giveaways. Today's topic is an introduction, so here are a few Q&A's about me.

1. Tell us a bit about you…

Book Review: Five Night Stand by Richard J. Alley

Oliver Pleasant, renowned jazz pianist, has decided it's time to retire at age 85. As his final farewell, he is playing five nights at his friend, Benji's, club in New York City. This "five night stand" will bring Oliver together with Agnes, a young, troubled pianist, Frank, a newspaper reporter, and a variety of other characters who will use Oliver's jazz music as a backdrop to their own personal journeys.

In Five Night Stand, Richard J. Alley tells a story about a jazz legend using the rhythm of jazz. Smooth and poetic, Alley's writing style immerses the reader into the musical setting, making you want to linger over the words with an old record playing in the background. The novel is broken into five sections, one for each night of Oliver's final performance.  Each section shares a bit more about Oliver, Agnes and Frank, taking us deeper into the music of their lives.

All three main characters drew me into their stories. Though they have diverse backg…

Time for the Big Book Summer Reading Challenge!

Sue at Book by Book is once again hosting a Big Book Summer Challenge. I'm excited to participate again. You just have to read at least one book that is more than 400 pages by Labor Day in the U.S., which is September 7.

Here's what I plan to read:


I'm looking forward to this challenge! I hope you'll join me!

Book Club Picks: 20th Century Historical Fiction

Welcome to my weekly series: Book Club Picks. This week, I'm sharing some 20th Century Historical Fiction novels that would be great choices for a book club discussion. Covering topics about immigration, World Wars I and II, and the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, these books will give book clubs plenty to talk about.


Note about the links below: My reviews do not include spoilers, but the discussion questions do. The book covers are Amazon Affiliate links. If you use those links to make a purchase, I will receive a very small commission but your price will remain the same.

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
Published May, 2009; 336 pages
This novel brings 1930s Shanghai and Chinatown in Los Angeles to life through the story of two sisters, May and Pearl, who have to leave the country they know and love to make their way in the United States. Book clubs can discuss the society and customs of the time in both Shanghai and the U.S., the mistreatment of Chinese immigrants in the U.S. …

Book Review: The Orbital Perspective by Astronaut Ron Garan

Astronaut Ron Garan has spent 178 days in space, traveling 71,075,867 miles in 2,842 orbits of our planet. During his time in space, looking down at the planet Earth below, Garan's perspective of this world we live in evolved.
"When we look down from an orbital perspective, we realize that each and every one of us is riding through the universe together on this spaceship that we call Earth, that we're all interconnected, that we're all in this together, and that we're all family." ~ Astronaut Ron Garan In his experience with the space program and his time on the International Space Station, he saw the way that nations were able to put their differences aside, joining together to build the most complex structure ever built in space. Yet, oftentimes, our differences are what make it impossible to work together in this way here on Earth. So much could be accomplished if nations and people could look to the common good, rather than their own gain.

The Orbital Per…

Giveaway: The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

On May 26th, Penguin is launching the paperback edition of Deborah Harkness's #1 New York Times bestselling novel The Book of Life, the final chapter in the smart, sexy All Souls Trilogy, which is about historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont. Now all three books will be available in paperback, and in a beautiful boxed set.


To celebrate the launch, Penguin is offering one of my readers a paperback copy of The Book of Life. You can enter to win using the Rafflecopter below. The giveaway ends at midnight Eastern time on May 24. Per the requirements of the publisher, this giveaway is only open to winners with U.S. addresses.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Week in Review

Good morning. I hope you had a great week. My husband and I celebrated our 16th anniversary this weekend with dinner out at a fancy restaurant, a show (Pippin) and a kid-free night in a local resort hotel. It was wonderful! Then we spent some family time at our neighborhood pool yesterday. It was perfect weather for it. I'm so excited summer is almost here!

Reviews and Blog Posts
Book Club Picks: 18th & 19th Century Historical Fiction

I am still way behind on reviews, and I didn't get much reading done last week either. I've actually resorted to getting my son to read one of the review books I have for this month and am going to pay him to write a review since I don't know if I can fit it in!! This is why I have stopped accepting more books for review. I need a bit of a break from the commitments.

Reading
I am currently reading At the Water's Edge: A Novel by Sara Gruen. It's good so far, but I just haven't had a lot of time to read. I need to finish…

Book Club Picks: 18th & 19th Century Historical Fiction

Welcome to my weekly series: Book Club Picks. This week, I'm sharing some 18th and 19th Century Historical Fiction novels that would be great choices for a book club discussion. I do have a few that address the topic of slavery in the United States, which is a pretty common topic for this time in history. But I found some others that cover different topics as well.


Note about the links below: My reviews do not include spoilers, but the discussion questions do. The book covers are Amazon Affiliate links. If you use those links to make a purchase, I will receive a very small commission but your price will remain the same.

Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill
Published November, 2007; 512 pages
Originally titled The Book of Negroes, this epic novel follows the life of Aminata Diallo from her childhood in Africa to her life as a slave in America and beyond. From the beginning, we know she ends up in London working with the Abolitionists. It's her horrifying and amazing journey…

Week in Review

It's not Monday anymore, but I figured I'd still share a recap of last week. I hope you had a fabulous week, and for all the moms out there, I hope you enjoyed your Mother's Day. I spent most of the day on the couch, coloring with M and reading. It was quite nice, although it would have been nicer to sit by the pool if it hadn't been rainy and cloudy!

Reviews and Blog Posts
Book Review & Giveaway: Ryder: Bird of Prey by Nick Pengelley
Book Club Picks: Contemporary Fiction

Reading
I read and reviewed Ryder: Bird of Prey by Nick Pengelley last week. Then I read The Book of Unknown Americans: A novel by Cristina Henriquez, which is this month's book club selection. I have mixed feelings about this novel so I'm waiting to write my review until after our discussion this week.

Speaking of reviews, I'm way behind, so at some point when I take the time to write, I will have several to share!

M has read the first two Magic Tree House books, and she read Chocolate F…