Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Moms + Lit + Wine = My Kind of Book Club

A few months ago some of the moms in my mom's group decided to form a monthly book club. I couldn't be more excited! In years past I always set goals for myself to read 20 or 30 books, but with my busy life now I just don't have that much time to dedicate to reading, no matter how much as I love it. Two solutions have kept me from using "too busy" as an excuse not to read at all. 

#1 I set a more attainable goal of reading 6 fictional books this year. Even if I only have time to read my book club reads through the end of the year then I'll make my goal and I love that. 

#2 Audio books through Audible. While I do love actual books - the smell, the feel, being able to fill my bookshelves and read them again and again if I so choose, this is a concession I've had to make for the time being. It's the simplest of processes and so convenient for me! Audible is an Amazon company. Much like other programs through Amazon they offer monthly subscriptions and I have the one that allows me to get one book per month for a minimal fee. When I signed up the first month was free. What sold me on Audible is that it's synced with my Kindle and iPhone. All I had to do was download the app and sign in. Now every time I download a new book online it's sent directly to my phone. The app allows you to download the book in portions so that it doesn't take up all the free space on your phone. Which brings me to actually listening to said books.

I listen all the time! My favorite time to listen is in the car through Bluetooth. I can't stand traffic and Atlanta is the worst, so listening to whatever book I'm on makes it more bearable. Another upside is that Benjamin really loves the narrator's voices. Half the time it puts him to sleep and the other half he's happy just to listen too. There is a great feature that allows you to go back just 30 seconds if you need to replay something you missed. I think that feature is especially for multi-tasking moms. I also listen at home while I'm editing photo sessions, during naptime, or after Benjamin goes to bed. I tend to become obsessive when I really get into a book so although the average book is about 21 hours long I'm able to finish it in just about a week or so.
Every month whoever has agreed to host the meeting in their home also gets to select the book. Last night was our second book club meeting and we had read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. The host(s) also decide how we're going to discuss the book. Last month we read Fly Away by Kristin Hannah and discussed the book using the suggestions provided on the author's website. Last night our hosts broke us into teams for a game of trivia. Mostly our book club meetings are a great opportunity for us moms to get out of the house sans baby + husband, drink wine, and talk. I would say discussing the actual book accounts for about ten percent of the conversation but I always leave thinking, "that was fun!" 

So, it's been a few years but I thought I'd bring book reviews back to the blog. Each month I'll share the synopsis and a few brief thoughts on whatever book we've read. I'll also post our next book so if you want to read along we can dialog here on the blog. And by all means, let's connect on Goodreads.
Fly Away is the latest book by Kristin Hannah. It was my first time reading a book she's authored and when I went to the library initially to see about checking it out there was a waiting list of 72 people. Seventy two! It was obviously eagerly anticipated but because I didn't read the book description I had absolutely no idea that it was the sequel to Firefly Lane. In hindsight I would have liked to have read them in order but I do think that Fly Away stands alone. I felt that the author did a good job setting the scene and developing the preexisting characters. I thought the book was just a little bit better than okay. I found it very slow and redundant at times. It was incredibly depressing and frustrating to read. It wasn't until toward the end that the story really became good and I loved the message of reconciliation and redemption. I scored it a 3 out of 5 on Goodreads.

The synopsis: "Tully Hart has always been larger than life, a woman fueled by big dreams and driven by memories of a painful past. She thinks she can overcome anything until her best friend, Kate Ryan, dies. Tully tries to fulfill her deathbed promise to Kate---to be there for Kate’s children---but Tully knows nothing about family or motherhood or taking care of people.

Sixteen-year-old Marah Ryan is devastated by her mother’s death. Her father, Johnny, strives to hold the family together, but even with his best efforts, Marah becomes unreachable in her grief. Nothing and no one seems to matter to her . . . until she falls in love with a young man who makes her smile again and leads her into his dangerous, shadowy world.

Dorothy Hart---the woman who once called herself Cloud---is at the center of Tully’s tragic past. She repeatedly abandoned her daughter, Tully, as a child, but now she comes back, drawn to her daughter’s side at a time when Tully is most alone. At long last, Dorothy must face her darkest fear: Only by revealing the ugly secrets of her past can she hope to become the mother her daughter needs.

A single, tragic choice and a middle-of-the-night phone call will bring these women together and set them on a poignant, powerful journey of redemption. Each has lost her way, and they will need each one another---and maybe a miracle---to transform their lives.

An emotionally complex, heart-wrenching novel about love, motherhood, loss, and new beginnings, Fly Away reminds us that where there is life, there is hope, and where there is love, there is forgiveness."
Gone Girl was also my first experience reading from author, Gillian Flynn and I LOVED this book SO much! It has been too long since I've read a book that I could not "put down" (you know, since I was listening to the audio book)! The character development was so good that I found myself very passionately feeling certain ways about them. I loved that we got two sides of the story and had to decipher where the truth was only to be thrown for a huge loop in Part 2. Wow!! It was so intense and gripping. I loved everything but the ending and it wasn't because of the way it was written but how their story unfolds. Scary. I scored it a 4 out of 5 on Goodreads.

The synopsis: "Marriage can be a real killer. One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn, takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. As The Washington Post proclaimed, her work “draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction.” Gone Girl’s toxic mix of sharp-edged wit with deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn.

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick Dunne’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick Dunne isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but hearing from Amy through flashbacks in her diary reveal the perky perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister Margo at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was left in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?"
September's book pick: The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton + our next meeting is the 17th. Read it by then so we can chat, ok?!

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