A Book Picnic

Leas Miserables Book Club Picnic

Our June book club meeting took us back to Geist Park, where our book club began several years ago, for a picnic and our discussion of Les Misérables. After I had posted a few pictures from our June meeting to Facebook, one of my co-workers told me he would join our book club, but he was solely interested in the food. I can’t say that I blame him. The food was delicious.

Book Club Picnic Food

The décor was perfect for a summer picnic…

Book Club Picnic Decorations

And Sarah’s mason jar cheesecakes were a huge hit…

Mason Jar Cheesecakes

Quite a few of us attempted Les Misérables, some of us watched a film adaptation instead, and a few of us finished. One thing we realized is that all abridgements (and film adaptations, for that matter) are not created equal. The Barnes & Noble classic edition abridged by Laurence M. Porter that a couple of us had seemed to be the best at cutting out some of the lengthy passages that didn’t really contribute to the story (including about 15 chapters about the Battle of Waterloo). However, a couple of us had abridged editions that cut out so much, the story didn’t really make sense anymore. We spent a lot of the time filling in the gaps and recounting the story, talking about the characters of Jean Valjean, Fantine, Marius and Cosette as we went along. I think we all are looking forward to seeing how the new film adaptation of the musical that will be coming out in December will treat the story and how it will compare to the novel.

Book Club Group Photo

For July, we’re taking it a little easier and will be reading the (much shorter) essays “Nature” by Ralph Waldo Emerson and “Walking” by Henry David Thoreau. Hopefully the summer weather and warm sunshine will give you some inspiration to read these classics by two of the most famous naturalist authors. We will see you July 12 at 7 p.m. We will keep you posted on the location for this month, so watch for that information coming soon.

Happy reading!


A Christmas party recap

Thought I’d share a few glimpses of our book club Christmas party!
Sarah did an excellent job decorating her house for the occasion!

Our white elephant books sat wrapped under the tree waiting for us to finish our dissuasion of A Year In Provence. (Which I still say we should all just go there on a book club road (air and sea) trip some day!)

Don’t you love her tree with just sliver and green decorations? I do!

Table runner inspired by The Nester’s tablecloth.

Amazing hot chocolate bar fixings.
This truly scrumtious hot chocolate recipe that must be tried by all.
It just must. Helen at Tartelette is a genius.
And the beautiful book trees were made by our very own Wendy! Thanks Wendy!
I was having way too much fun enjoying the party and didn’t take very many photos.
We also enjoyed some heavenly Gingerbread apple upside down cake that Gwynne made from SmittenKitchen. It looked almost exactly like this… and tastes better than it looks if you can believe it!

This year we got festive with some Pomegranate-Champagne Punch from Martha Stewart
Minus the liqueur, but still YUM!

We finished up our evening with a lil ol’ game of cherades. Wonder what we were acting out?

…next year’s books! Shall I say entertaining? Yes.
(Janet and I will be sharing a vlog soon with all the 2012 book club books!
This will be the first time we’ve released all 12 books at one time. Be excited!)

Each guest left with a mini Broadened Horizons book club journal. I spent many nights cutting up old books, making library cards, counting pages and watching more than my fair share of Netflix while putting these together but enjoyed every minute!
See you January 12th for The Help at Paradise Bakery and Cafe at 7:00pm.

Velma will not be spoiled:

Velma Still Cooks In Leeway
We all agreed this probably wouldn’t be our first choice of a title for this book rich with story and plot. One of us was originally NOT even going to read it BECAUSE of the title. Yes, it is a very fitting title now having finished the book. BUT please don’t judge this book by it’s title.
I would LOVE to share all about our discussion and review of this book. I would LOVE to tell you all about these characters and story that gave me new hope in the Christian Fiction genere. (Which, I must be honest, is not a personal favorite of mine.)
This is not a spoiler post. I encourage you to read this if you have not, and if I say pretty much anything I will spill the beans on some unexpected twists that stumped us all!
Let me remind you, this blog is only a tool. A tool to assist the main event, the IRL (in real life) book club discussion each month. Granted, I love blogging and the friendships, potential possibilities and opportunities for learning without even leaving my home, BUT this blog is a place to maybe learn about a new author or hear about an upcoming month’s book that you’ve never heard of or to even try (and learn you actually LIKE!**) a new genre! This blog, I hope, is a tool to get out out from behind your computer so we can all see your face!
I hope we can see YOUR face next month! December 8th come for a night with no kids, no stress, just friends, food and of course some discussion of another excellent book:
A Year in Provence transports us into all the earthy pleasures of Provençal life and lets us live vicariously at a tempo governed by seasons, not by days.

Please be sure you RSVP for December’s discussion because this will also be our annual Christmas Party! I want to have enough goodies for each and every one of you!

**This happend to me twice…so far: First with Shane, a Western and now with Christian Fiction with this little story of a lady full of wisdom, Velma.

Murder At the Vicarage Recap

It was unanimous. After reading our first Agatha Christie novel, we understand why she is the bestselling author she is. She is so clever; we were all surprised by the ending. There’s a good chance we’ll be reading more of her work in the future. So if you haven’t finished yet, go ahead and do that right now.

We’re not fond of the truly scary, and this book fit the light-hearted murder mystery bill. It actually reminded us a lot of Monday the Rabbi Took Off by Harry Kemelman which we read in September of 2008.

For more discussion, show up on the 2nd Thursday of the month for the live, play-by-play reaction to what we’re reading!

Plus, there’s always yummies to snack on!
(and who can say no to a pumpkin spice latte this time of year?)

Next time, Thursday Nov. 10th @7pm, we’ll be discussing Velma Still Cooks in Leeway. All I know about Velma is that life happens, and she still cooks. I’m ready to dig into this highly recommended novel and perhaps try a few of her recipes!
(While you’re ordering Velma, go ahead and buy A Year In Provence, our December book by Peter Mayle. Who couldn’t use comedic stories of the South of France to add even more cheer to your Holidays?)

Don’t judge a book by its movie.

Now, granted I haven’t seen the movie Gone With The Wind. But… after hearing the general consensus of the group, I won’t.
The book, on the other hand, was highly rated by our gathering of 10 ladies. Most of us gave it an 8-9.5! I’d love to hear how you’d rate this book on a scale of 1-10 if you were unable to join us. Leave us a comment!

Since the mercury wasn’t dropping, we moved our summer picnic indoors.
And you women sure do know how to make a salad! Excellent food, ladies- excellent!
This summer is a rare one for me… all three of my sisters are local and were able to join us! Often the summers have found us on multiple continents!
Usually our discussions are peppered with discussion of the book that we read and the stories of our life.
This epic novel offered plenty of topics to discuss. I hope next time you will be able to join us as we chat great literature.
Next time we’ll meet August 11th at 7:00pm at Paradise Bakery and Cafe.
A Girl Named Zippy
This may not seem like “great literature” at first glance, but like they always say don’t judge it by it’s cover. This is a funny lady who grew up very near us and gives quite the comical view of small town life from the eyes of a tom-boy third grader. A quick read and not one to skip!
Remember to think of your book-loving friends! August is Bring A Friend month!
See you in two weeks,
Happy Reading!

Reading FOR and WITH a Purpose

Recap of our April meeting:
Three Cups of Tea

Where to even begin?

How do I put an experience into words? How do I give it the proper credits their due.

If you would have asked me 5 or 10 years ago I never ever would have guessed I would start a book club. I never could have imagined how much I would enjoy reading good books and discussing them with friends… over TEA!

I would have called you crazy.

Although my cool Aunt Lois always drank tea… I didn’t think that the transparent-watery drink was for me. (Now I’ve learned the joy of a splash of raw milk and honey! My tea is not transparent! And tea is not like water.)

Saturday was a perfect clash of so many favorites coming together!

Our discussion of Three Cups of Tea lasted longer than normal but we didn’t notice. Each with our own pot of tea, we were set to enjoy the cloudy day sitting in the cafe. (Mine was a marvelous pot of carmel almond black tea- sweetened and with milk, of course!)

Three Cups of Tea

An amazing feat done by the inspiration of one man.

A wrong turn. A new road for his life.

New schools where there were none.

Hope for the coming generations.

A creative solution for a major issue.

Teaching peace through simple education.

Our discussion questions were a little like essay questions, BUT they provided excellent launching points for our discussion.

One question spurred on part of our conversation…

Greg believes education is the key solution to some very complicated problems. What other problems do you think are in need of some creative solutions?

We agreed most problems, especially the big and complicated ones, should be solved creatively, not by just throwing money at them. The small, tedious steps Greg needed to take to build each school… like how he had to build a bridge to even get to the building site of his first school. Those small, very necessary, steps will probably help really solve problems not just patch them.

We also discussed the following two big problems and the inspired people coming up with creative solutions.

Education in America. If you’re not familiar with Ted Talks you should surf on over there and take a gander. One of many with inspired ideas, Salman Khan is using video to “reinvent education.” You may think that sounds like the opposite direction we need to go. Kids need a human to teach them, talk to them, answer specific questions, right? Well, before you make any judgments see if these short 20 minutes don’t change your mind.

Food. Specifically processed food… I believe another complicated problem in America. We talked about Jamie Oliver and his show Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. His current season is focused on promoting healthy eating habits in public schools. Referring to last month’s book, I think food in America is near a tipping point. (Do you agree??) Oliver is teaching about REAL food… you know, the kind that grows in the ground and on trees… people are re-learning how to cook and bake. With actual food.

I’ll stop there before I get higher on my food soap box 🙂 and get back to our book.

We enjoyed reading a different perspective from the middle east. He shared about where he was on 9/11. And what that meant for an American in the Middle East at that time. We enjoyed the details. I really got a good mental picture of the many locations he traveled and the sparse life he lived while trying to collect enough money for schools and airfare. Personally, I would have loved to hear more from his wife’s point of view… but maybe that will be a book in itself some day.

And we discussed much more.

I know many were busy this month, but I wish you could have made it! I encourage you to come next month, May 12th.

Rachel won the door prize… a copy of next month’s secret reveal book…

Peter Pan by J. M Barrie

I’m sure you’re familiar with the Disney version of this classic, but have you ever read the original? (Be sure you’re copy isn’t an abridged version… you’ll be missing out! It’s a quick read, you don’t need to get the short version anyway!)

A little fairy dust never hurt anyone. I’m sure you’ll enjoy this book. And I know this children’s book will prove good conversation for our adult book club.

See you in a few weeks!

Mama Bear’s

Saturday at Mama Bears was fun and cozy! I’m so excited this location was suggested and can’t wait to go back! I would definitely recommend it to any of you! Such a nice place with a comfy atmosphere and great food and drinks.

This was our smallest crowd yet with just three of us being able to attend. And it was our first meeting since getting my TableTopics so it was neat to be able to pick a question and talk about it. We also had the discussion questions I sent out previously, so we were not short of things to discuss.

Whether you were able to attend or not, please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts about the book!
This next book (Animal Vegetable Miracle –but be sure not to get Animal Vegetable MINERAL… this isn’t the book we’re reading 🙂 ) I can’t even describe how excited I am to re-read this book! I hope you all have a chance to read it even if you aren’t able to attend our next discussion. (on April 18th)