Up next for October…

For our October meeting, we’re reading The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling. From what I can tell so far, it’s very VERY different from her Harry Potter series (you may have heard of it), which is the way she wanted it. 

Amazon says: When Barry Fairbrother dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…. Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the town’s council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations? Blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults.

September: The Age of Miracles

The September book was Age of Miracles  by Karen Thompson Walker. As I mentioned before, I haven’t read the book, but I think the premise is pretty interesting. Here’s what Amazon says:

On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, Julia and her family awake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. The days and nights grow longer and longer, gravity is affected, the environment is thrown into disarray. Yet as she struggles to navigate an ever-shifting landscape, Julia is also coping with the normal disasters of everyday life—the fissures in her parents’ marriage, the loss of old friends, the hopeful anguish of first love, the bizarre behavior of her grandfather who, convinced of a government conspiracy, spends his days obsessively cataloging his possessions. As Julia adjusts to the new normal, the slowing inexorably continues.

http://www.amazon.com/Age-Miracles-Karen-Thompson-Walker/dp/0812992970

August: Gone Girl

I think this was one of my favorite books so far, but it was a pretty mixed reaction from the group. This book has gotten a lot of hype, so I kind of expected it to be generically exciting, but maybe not the most well-written of novels. What I liked the most was that it was a surprising narrative. This book was more about how changing the way a reader views a character can turn the plot upside-down.

I first found the female protagonist (Amy) incredibly intolerable. She would go on rants about how she was the “cool girlfriend/wife” and how she couldn’t understand how these other women expected to keep their man by demanding (read: expressing their needs) what they wanted. I was so angry when I read Amy’s journal entry about this. Another freaking woman telling me that I shouldn’t express how I feel and that the man should get everything he wants and I should get nothing I want. Unbelievable.

To focus back on the storytelling, I liked how Flynn switched between the male (Nick) and female protagonists. I also loved how she revealed more about the character’s personality as the novel unfolded, revealing that neither narrator (Nick nor Amy) was trustworthy. This is incredible storytelling. I love when the author doesn’t control the story too much by forcing me down a path of belief. I like to form my own opinions about characters with the evidence presented. This can be incredibly difficult to do unless you’re writing from third person objective, which can often times feel very stilted and wooden.

The personality switch reminded me a lot of Hitchcock’s Psycho in that who the viewer thinks will be the protagonist of that movie is killed within the first 15 or so minutes. It’s so shocking to the viewer that we’re not sure who we’re supposed to follow next. You can even feel the camera mimicking this struggle through the quick cuts after the character has been murdered in the shower. [Movie digression over.]

Many of the girls in the Girly Book Club enjoy books with characters with whom they can relate. If they can’t find a character that is like them in some way, they do not enjoy the book as much. This is a legitimate way to read a book, but if that is the case, then this book is definitely not for you. Almost every character is an asshole. All are very interesting and compelling assholes, but assholes none the less. Asshole.

A note on September: none of us read the next book, so I’ll post an Amazon summary and when I read the book eventually, I’ll post a review on it. Our October book, however is quite the exciting selection: the long-awaited next novel from J.K. Rowling, The Casual Vacancy. See you bitches at the end of October!

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July: Hidden Wives and The Five Love Languages

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I’m back, bitches and not-bitches. Now time to play catch up.

In July, The Girly Book Club read Hidden Wives by Claire Avery. I was so-so on the book, although our group had very polarizing viewpoints. Becky loved the book (and I believe has listed it among her favorites of chosen books), while Ali felt that there was far too much rape. To be fair, she did request a book without any rape. “I’ll read anything, just please no rape, you guys!” Oops.

I thought that the topic of a polygamist colony was interesting, but overdone at this point. Under the Banner of Heaven has been out for years, Romney is running for President, my best friend in high school was Mormon- is Mormonism still a hot-button issue that needs exposure? I also thought the characterization was completely predictable and unrealistic. Rachel (sister of Sara, our protagonist) was so under the spell of the religion that it made sense that she freaked out, but her complete 180 self-actualization in the end was a bit too cathartic for me. Honestly, I would have found the story much more interesting if she had died. I know that sounds harsh, but hear me out. If Rachel had died, then Sara’s reaction after the court case would have been totally justified. It would have also made for a more interesting story if Sara’s anger could be focused on revenge. Like in the show, Revenge. Overall, I give this book a “meh.”

Now, onto the The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts. I liked parts of this book, but I did not finish it. Mostly because I didn’t want to because I wanted to read other things. I did really like the idea that humans communicate and receive love in different ways. It gave me perspective on members of family and friends. Other than that, I think the book is directed at couples who are married. I couldn’t utilize a lot of the information in my daily life. This may be because I am an embittered single woman in my late-twenties, but I digress. I recommend this book to married couples everywhere who don’t feel like reading something else.

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Up Next…

We selected two books for our July meeting: a novel and a self-help book.

The novel: Hidden Wives by Claire Avery

Amazon says: 

Fifteen-year-old Sara and her beautiful sister, Rachel, are too young to legally drive a car—but are approaching spinsterhood in Utah’s secret polygamist Blood of the Lamb community. Having long since reached the “age of preparedness,” they will soon be married off to much older men chosen by the hidden sect’s revered Prophet.

As Sara, chosen to become her uncle’s fifth wife, grows more distraught over her impending incestuous marriage, she begins to scrutinize the faith she has followed blindly her entire life. But for Rachel, who will be married to one of the many powerful community leaders vying for her hand, disobeying the Prophet means eternal damnation. Her friendship with the newest member of the community, the young and handsome Luke, starts as an attempt to save his agnostic soul, but ends with the pair falling helplessly in love. When Rachel is forbidden to see him, her absolute faith in the Prophet is severely tested.

When Rachel’s future husband is finally announced, violence erupts, and the girls must find the strength to escape the only life they have ever know…before it’s too late.

Claire Avery has woven a stunning tale that could be ripped from today’s headlines. Shocking and empowering, Hidden Wives is a page-turning debut that will stay with the reader. [http://www.amazon.com/Hidden-Wives-Claire-Avery/dp/0765326892]

The book: We also decided that we would read a section from The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts. This will be the first meeting where we’re reading something nonfiction and two at once. We’re reading Chapters 1-3 for our July meeting.

Amazon says: 

The secret to love that lasts!  “How do we meet each other’s deep emotional need to feel loved? If we can learn that and choose to do it, then the love we share will be exciting beyond anything we ever felt when we were infatuated.” —Dr. Gary Chapman.  Dr. Gary Chapman’s international bestseller has brought back or intensified the love in millions of marriages by revealing the five distinct languages we all use to express love: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.  Couples who understand each other’s love language hold a priceless advantage in the quest for love that lasts a lifetime— they know how to effectively and consistently make each other feel truly and deeply loved. [http://www.amazon.com/The-Five-Love-Languages-Secret/dp/1589269063]

Happy reading!

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June: The Magicians

I did not finish this book. I did not come close to finishing this book.

I mentioned before about how our group (particularly me) did not want to get stuck reading one particular genre just because we all liked it. One of our newest members suggested we read The Magicians, a fantasy book about twenty-somethings who attend a school for magic. She made the sell by saying, “It’s like Harry Potter goes to college. A darker Harry Potter.” And I’ll admit that there definitely was an element of that. There was even a quick quidditch joke, which I enjoyed.

My problem with this book was that it was so goddamn slow! I’m all about books that are heavy on exposition, but a book with no conflict until page 300 out 400 is not enough for me. Sure, there were mini-conflicts throughout the book, but none were significant enough to keep me interested. There was no central conflict introduced until the very end, as @No_Yes_NOYES, one of our members, explained to us during the meeting.

This book club meeting was drastically different than other meetings. Not a single person, even @No_Yes_NOYES, the one who actually liked the book, did not finish it. Ali had read the most, so it was her job to explain what had happened as far as she had read. We actually had a really interesting discussion because so many of us did not enjoy different parts of the book. The biggest complaint was that Quentin (protagonist) was not a relatable character. The author kept Quentin at a distance from the readers, even though he was our main guy to follow around. I never understood or related to his motivations for doing things, and thus never quite aligned with him throughout the book.

The way @No_Yes_NOYES described the rest of the book was actually quite interesting, although she even said that it may not be worth it to read the rest of the book because there was SO MUCH explanation. She actually just finished the book and was telling me everything that happens at the end, and as stated in her email, “SHIT GOES DOWN.” I’m not sure it’s enough for me to actually finish the book [spolier: someone’s hands get EATEN], but the end sounded a hell of a lot more interesting than the bit that I read.

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A Recap of the first 3 book discussions

I’ll admit that this blog was conceived much after a few of our meetings. It would have been much more convenient to create said blog at the beginning so that each book could be reviewed in a timely fashion, but ’twas not meant to be. So instead, here’s a quick recap of our first 3 meetings.

#1: Water For Elephants 

I picked this book because it was one that was fairly popular a few years ago, but that I still hadn’t read. (Neither had most of the girls in book club either, apparently.) We were all pretty excited about having a book club that we may not have been as honest with how we we felt about the book. We were fairly lukewarm on the story. I did not particularly enjoy the book. I found some of the historical information on circuses interesting, but the flash forwards with the protagonist as old man was completely uninteresting to me, which made me feel like a bad person. It made me feel like I don’t like old people, which made me feel bad. That makes me annoyed at you, author. Stop making me feel bad! Most of us felt that the book was rather slow in the beginning, but it started it to pick up as we continued reading.

#2: The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes 

We were all OBSESSED with this book. It was pretty long, but a very quick read. It had intrigue, plot twists, and interesting character development. We talked a lot about how we didn’t understand why CeeCee made some of her decisions in the beginning, especially when she was completely blind to what her boyfriend was doing in the beginning. Some of us were mad, and some rationalized her behavior to lack of mother figure in her formative years. All in all, we wanted more books like this one, but we didn’t want to get stuck in a genre and not explore other books. So, next we selected…

#3: Sarah’s Key 

I really liked this book, as did two other girls, but the majority did not like this book. It’s a historical fiction book that focuses on the Holocaust. I agreed that the protagonist isn’t a strong character and that I didn’t particularly identify with her much or understand her motivations at times, but I still enjoyed reading about the subject matter. I don’t read enough historical fiction, and there’s something about the Holocaust that terrifies and fascinates me that humans were/are actually capable of something so horrific. It feels like something out of science fiction. Other girls in our group felt that there is already so much literature on the Holocaust that doesn’t focus on other events of persecution that still go on today in other countries.

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First Post!

I’ll admit that my friend, @chickennug_girl, got me inspired to create my own blog(s). It’s been a common trend of mine to create a blog and then abandon it like an unwanted puppy on Christmas. (Who wouldn’t want a puppy on Christmas? Nazis. Stupid Nazis.) I even think I have another post on another forgotten blog about abandoning blogs. Interesting.

What makes this blog different is that it actually has purpose and direction, not just me wanting to write shit down and tell people. This blog is about my awesome book club with some of my closest girlfriends. What I’ll try and do with this blog is post my personal thoughts on the book and also the group’s collective thoughts on the book as well. My hope is that others will follow along and that we can have an online blogging book club as well as my awesome live one. Or it could just be me writing out into outside space internet land with no one reading but my mother. Either way, you’re laughin’!

PS, if you’re interested in reading my friend’s blog on clean eating and running (I get seriously addicted to reading blogs), you can read it here:

http://chickennuggetgirl.wordpress.com/