Friday, May 13, 2011

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Click here for a very brief plot summary

This past Wednesday we enjoyed another delightful evening chatting about yet another amazing read!  Everyone in our group gave this book a thumbs up!  One of my favorite parts of the discussion focused on the letter writing format of the novel.  We talked about how you get to know the characters in bits and pieces through their letters.  It was a little hard for some of our readers to get used to, but once we figured it all out, we really enjoyed the format!  Reading these letters made us want to write letters!  Not emails or Facebook posts, but actual, hand-written letters.

This novel wasn't just fun to read, it was also enlightening.  We all felt that we learned something from reading this novel.  Few of us knew much (if anything) about the Channel Islands and we certainly didn't know about the German occupation of Guernsey during WWII.  We all felt we learned something about the difficulties of that war and of how deeply it affected the lives of people in England and Guernsey.  Most of us had not known anything about the Todt slaves and the abuse they faced at the hands of the Nazis - this was something that was particularly haunting for some of our readers.  One of the things that we came to feel was that everyone had been hurt by the Nazi regime.  Those who suffered in countries that were occupied, or targeted by Hitler, or even (for some Germans) forced to participate in and fight for a cause in which they did not believe (as was the case with Christian Heller).  For me the emotions felt during the reading of this novel went all the way from heart-wrenching to utter joy!

The characters in this novel really came to life for most of us and we really came to feel deeply involved in their (fictional) lives.  It was a great novel to read for a book club!  Thanks to all our readers for a great evening!  Thanks to Brady Davies from the Standard Journal for visiting our book club.  We are looking forward to your article! :)

COMING SOON (although it may be after baseball season) from the meeting, including a recipe for a delicious Potato Peel Pie! :) 

Please feel free to leave comments about further observations on the novel or thoughts you wish I would have included above!

* A note on our next book.  We are now reading Peter Pan, or as it was first titled, Peter and Wendy the author is JM Barrie.  I wanted to be sure to include both titles so you will know what you are looking for.  I know you can get a free version of this book both online or at Amazon for your Kindle (or similar).  Just make sure you search for the Peter and Wendy title to find the free version.  Happy Reading!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Silas Marner

Click here to find a good plot summary.

Most of our readers agreed that, aisde from the rather engaging first chapters detailing Marner's life in Lantern's End, this book was a bit slow for the first half of the book.  However, once we got through to the arrival of Eppie at Marner's door, we all felt that reading was easier and more rewarding.  We had a nice discussion about Marner's gold and the place it had in his life.  We discussed the place of religion in his life and how Eppie effected his life and really brought about his redemption.  We were all touched by the devotion that existed between Eppie and Marner.  We talked further of Eppie's biological father, Godfrey, and talked possible motives for his actions as well as the regrets that he had to live with from the choices we made.  We all pitied him to a degree.

Language, pacing and sifting through seemingly extraneous material was a challenge for all of our readers, but in the end the message of this book really won most of us over.  It was a good, challenging read and was great fun to discuss.  Thanks Ladies!  

Want to find the recipe for the delicious trifle we had that night...look below!!!

Raspberry Cream Trifle
(I used strawberries instead)


   * 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
   * 1 cup cold water
   * 1 teaspoon almond extract
   * 1 package (3.4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding mix
   * 2 cups heavy whipping cream, whipped
   * 1 prepared angel food cake (8 to 10 ounces), cut into 1-inch cubes
   * 2 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam
   * 2 cups fresh raspberries
   * Chocolate curls and fresh mint


   * In a large bowl, beat the milk, water and extract until blended. Add pudding mix; whisk for 2 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set. Cover and chill until mixture is partially set. Fold in the whipped cream.
   * Place half of the cake cubes in a 2-qt. glass serving bowl. Top with half of the cream mixture. Carefully spread with jam. Sprinkle with 1 cup raspberries. Layer with remaining cake cubes, cream mixture and raspberries. Garnish with chocolate curls and mint. Yield: 14-16 servings.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

After the Dancing Days

Phew!  This is the last catch up post and then we are all up to date!

Last night we had a great meeting discussing After the Dancing Days by Margaret I. Rostkowski.  This is the story of 13 year old Annie Metcalf whose father is coming back from his assignment treating wounded soldiers as a doctor during World War I.  Annie begins visiting him at the new hospital where he is now working to continue to treat and help WWI vets who have been severely injured.  Annie overcomes her initial revulsion to a young man (Andrew) whose face has been completely destroyed by exposure to mustard gas and a deep friendship blooms.

A couple of our readers had read this YA novel years ago and loved it and found it very interesting to revisit it now as adults.  They noted that through adult eyes it was much easier to understand Annie's mother's desire to protect her young daughter from the ugliness of war.  We discussed the desire to forget the ugly things that happened during the war and pretend like they didn't happen.  This brought us to a discussion of people who look different today and how we react to them.  Whether the people we come in contact with have mental challenges or physical challenges, we discussed how every person wants and needs to be acknowledged no matter what their appearance is like.  Another insightful point of our discussion for me was in considering Andrew's choice and strength of character in moving on with his life.  He found a job that he could do and a way to help and serve others despite his obvious challenges.  It was instructive for me to consider that no matter what challenges I may have it is important to find a way to keep going, moving forward and finding ways to help others and find self-worth in what I can do, rather than wallowing in self-pity for what I can't accomplish.

We all know book club wouldn't be book club without food! Here are Lindsey's recipes for the delicious treats we enjoyed!

Although it doesn't have to be be 7 layers, here are suggestions for the layers of the bean dip:
Bottom layer: 2 cans refried beans mixed with 1 package of taco seasoning
Next layer: Guacamole (either homemade or canned, but if you use homemade, make sure you put lemon juice in it. Otherwise, it will not keep a nice green color.)
3rd layer: sour cream
4th layer: shredded cheese (any kind works)
(these 4 layers are the main ones. All layers following can be whatever you personally like)
5th layer: chopped tomoates
6th layer: chopped green onions
7th layer: olives

Fruit pizza
(makes one pizza crust):
1 can 16-18 oz refrigerated sugar cookie dough
(Or homemade recipe. This is the one I used:
Cream together 1/2 c softened butter and 3/4 c white sugar. Mix in 1 egg. Add 1 1/4 c flour, 1/2 t baking soda, and 1/4 t salt.)

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Press cookie dough into a well-greased pizza pan.
3. Bake 10 minutes (could be shorter or longer depending on the thickness of the crust. It will continue baking after it's pulled out of the oven, so take it out just when it's starting to turn a golden brown color.)
4. Cool completely.

Cream cheese topping (makes enough for 2 pizzas):
1 8 oz package of cream cheese (straight from the fridge)
5 T room temperature butter
1 t vanilla
Cream these together.
Add 2 c powdered sugar

Add whatever fruit toppings you want after frosting the pizzas (I used mandarin oranges, kiwis, strawberries, grapes, and bananas).
Chill for at least 1 hour.

Fire in the Bones

For our January meeting we "discussed" the book,  Fire in the Bones: William Tyndale, Martyr, Father of the English Bible by S. Michael Wilcox.  This book proved, I think, a little too intellectual and not reader friendly for our readers (I can say that without making somebody feel bad because I chose the book!).  I was really the only person who attended who had read the book, but I still say it is an amazing book and for me it read like a novel.  I loved learning about William Tyndale and found that knowing more about him and other reformers deepened my gratitude for their lives and sacrifices.  Further, it led me to feel a deep and profound gratitude for the Bible.  (As a side note I have an ancestor who is discussed at the very end of the book, John Rogers who continued Tyndale's work and who was also burned at the stake for him participation in moving that work forward). 

The book is written by an LDS author whose purpose in writing is to help an LDS audience appreciate the significance of the work of William Tyndale.  He points out, quite rightly, that Tyndale fought battles that made it possible for Joseph Smith to perform his work.  One of my favorite links from the Reformation to the Restoration is that Tyndale said that he wanted for the plow-boy to know more of the scriptures than the priest (because the priests knew little of the actual contents of the Bible and the plow-boy would be able to read the translated work).  That was certainly fulfilled in the person of Joseph Smith who was a plow-boy who read, loved, and applied the holy words of the Bible to his own situation which lead to coming to know his own mission on earth.

As I told our readers this is on my list of life-changing books.  We had a great discussion about our own purposes and how we must have the same sense of conviction to accomplish what we need to on earth, most notably raising our children.  It was a fun discussion!  Thanks Ladies!!!

Children's Book Review

Ok, ok, so I'm way behind on updating our book club blog.  I'll try to get us all up to date today! :)

In January we had a Children's book review.  We did this because we knew that nobody would have a chance to read a big long novel in December.  We had a great time talking about some of our favorite children's and adolescent books.  I don't think I could possibly capture what was said about all the books, and yes, there were many(!), but I will just say that we loved talking about children's books and I can definitely say I added a lot of books to my to-read list at our January meeting! :)

Feel free to comment with other favorite children's books that we should all know about! :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

We enjoyed a lovely December evening discussing Charles Dickens' Classic, A Christmas Carol.  Becky prepared excellent questions about the book including:  Which ghost was the most effective? and Why is this book such an enduring classic?  We talked about each of the ghosts and how they worked on Scrooge.  His transformation wouldn't have been complete without the visits from all three of them.  We felt that everyone can relate with some facet of Scrooge's character.  We wondered about his father and what the novel really told us about him.  We also spent some time talking about film adaptations:  how faithful they are to the book, where they have taken license, etc.

I welcome comments to include significant parts of our discussion I missed, my time is short this season!  :)

For January's meeting...

We realize that everybody is super-duper busy in December so we are not going to be reading a specific book.  Instead we will be sharing books with each other.  This will help us to keep meeting, and still have something fun to do at our meeting in January without having to feel guilty about not having time to read our book club selection for the month!  Mijken will be hosting and leading our next discussion.  See below for details!

Book Club-Children's Book Review
Please select a picture, children's, or young adult book to review.  
Come prepared to share the following information:
Pages: (Number)
Type: (ie. picture book, children's, etc.)
Genre:  (i.e. fantasy, sci fi, fiction, non-fiction)
Description: (doesn't have to be long)
Recommended by:
Rating: (from 1 - 5 stars)

It would be super helpful if you could bring all of this info written out.  I have extra forms at my house for anyone who wants to have it already printed out.

***Also - we will be moving our meeting time in January to accommodate schedule changes for several of our readers.  We will now be meeting on the first Wednesday of each month.***

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis

We had another great discussion last night!  This one was about our latest book, The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis.  Our first surprize was that this book wasn't about a marriage!  It was, in fact, C.S. Lewis' argument that Heaven and Hell do not coexist.  There is no part of Hell in Heaven - that is the great divorce.  The book details a bus journey from Hell to the the "edge" of Heaven.  There, the ghosts who have come on the journey are given the opportunity to choose to go on to embrace all that Heaven offers or return to Hell.  Interestingly, most choose to return to the bus and return to Hell, not having the desire nor the faith to go on and make the choice to embrace joy, happiness and Heaven.

Most of us could see something of ourselves in some of the caricatures of the ghosts who were depicted.  We discussed making the choice to be happy now and the get comfortable with the things of heaven now so we will feel comfortable when we do "arrive" there.

Thanks to Dacia for hosting us!

And...if you want to recreate the deliciousness she served us last night...follow this link to her Cooking Momma blog for directions and pictures. Yum-Oh!


Our next book has been chosen by Becky and is perfect for the beginning of the holiday season!  We will be reading A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (seriously, how perfect is that?) and plan to meet the first Tuesday in December.