Friday, September 28, 2012

The Wednesday Sisters - Discussion 2

Hi!  It’s Lisa from Lisa’s Yarns. Since I was the one who suggested this month’s book, I figured it was only fair that I do a post about it!  This book has been on my to-be-read list for quite awhile, and I was especially excited to read it after Emily gave it a rave review. 

 I knew I’d like it, but the book still exceeded my expectations.  It made me wish that I had a group of local girlfriends to discuss books and writing with – but I am thankful to have all of you to chat with each month! 

 Now for my thoughts on the book! I think the main reason I liked it was that the characters seemed really real.  They had their flaws, but in general, they seemed like people you’d encounter in life.  I also loved that the book was set around the same time that my mom was in her 20s/30s.  It made me wonder what it was life for to experience things like the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Nixon/Watergate controversy, and the women’s lib movement. 

Here are my questions!

  1. The Wednesday Sisters really rely on one another to help them grow as writers.  Do you or would you share your writing with anyone for their critique/feedback?
  2. Early in the book, the Wednesday Sisters congregate in a funeral parlor and take pictures in a coffin (creepy!) and imagine what they can accomplish in their lives that will not perish in their death.  Did this make you think about your life and what you’d like to accomplish?
  3. To show their support for Linda, the Wednesday Sisters all shave their heads.  Be honest – is that something you would do for a friend?
  4. Through the novel, the friendships are complex, constantly evolving, and occasionally downright messy.  Yet even as their bonds are tested, the group endures and grows stronger.  What do you think keeps their friendships growing stronger rather than breaking apart?
Thanks, Lisa! I'm glad you enjoyed it.  Hopefully you all can join us for next month's book, Prisoner of Tehran!



Sunday, September 23, 2012

Prisoner of Tehran.. the October Group Read!

From goodreads: What would you give up to protect your loved ones? Your life?In her heartbreaking, triumphant, and elegantly written memoir, "Prisoner of Tehran," Marina Nemat tells the heart-pounding story of her life as a young girl in Iran during the early days of Ayatollah Khomeini's brutal Islamic Revolution.

In January 1982, Marina Nemat, then just sixteen years old, was arrested, tortured, and sentenced to death for political crimes. Until then, her life in Tehran had centered around school, summer parties at the lake, and her crush on Andre, the young man she had met at church. But when math and history were subordinated to the study of the Koran and political propaganda, Marina protested. Her teacher replied, "If you don't like it, leave." She did, and, to her surprise, other students followed.

Soon she was arrested with hundreds of other youths who had dared to speak out, and they were taken to the notorious Evin prison in Tehran. Two guards interrogated her. One beat her into unconsciousness; the other, Ali, fell in love with her.

Sentenced to death for refusing to give up the names of her friends, she was minutes from being executed when Ali, using his family connections to Ayatollah Khomeini, plucked her from the firing squad and had her sentence reduced to life in prison. But he exacted a shocking price for saving her life -- with a dizzying combination of terror and tenderness, he asked her to marry him and abandon her Christian faith for Islam. If she didn't, he would see to it that her family was harmed. She spent the next two years as a prisoner of the state, and of the man who held her life, and her family's lives, in his hands.

Lyrical, passionate, and suffused throughout with grace and sensitivity, Marina Nemat's memoir is like no other. Her search for emotional redemption envelops her jailers, her husband and his family, and the country of her birth -- each of whom she grants the greatest gift of all: forgiveness

Sounds super good!! Can't wait! Discussions will be on October 12th and 26th!

Will you be joining us?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Current Loves

With the school year starting, I've felt myself slip into a new mindset and season.  I lik oe to get every last ounce out of my summer but as soon as I get into the classroom it just seems like fall to be and the random 80 degree days are just absurd ha.  I feel like if I am in a hot box with no a/c it better be fall like weather.  With this mindset of it must be fall, and today's wakeup temp of 36!!! I thought I'd share a few things I am currently loving or craving.

-Pumpkin Spice Lattes  Okay, okay, I am sooo late to love on these but I swear in the past they were just ehh to me, and this year? THEY ARE AMAZINGGGG.

- Pumpkins.  I want them everywhere and I really had to talk myself out of putting Isla in her pumpkin shirt today.

- Fall decorating .  I suck at decorating in general but the one thing I do every year is break out the fall decorations and candles! hmmmmmm.

- Apple crisp.  I want it bad.  Too bad our apple trees are a big suck this year and I will have to either bite the bullet on expensive apple buying or forego it this year.

- Sweatshirts.  I want them on all the time.  Even when it is 70 degrees.  See also: My husband thinks I'm crazy.

- FOOTBALL!  College, pro, fantasy.  I am obsessed.  Weekends after 12pm are pretty much booked through February. ;)

- Caramel Natural Bliss Creamer.  Yummmm.  I've been drinking a ton of coffee lately.  See also: back in the classroom

- Hay rides/corn mazes and pumpkin patches.  I want to go to one.  Badly.

So, obviously, even though my first love is summer, I'm very ready for fall activities.  And perhaps, Thanksgiving Break. 

What are you loving or craving lately?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

October Group Read Suggestions

That time of the month! What would you like to read in October? I think my favorites so far this year have been Looking for Alaska, The Year of Fog and The Violets of March.

The Wednesday Sisters
Looking for Alaska
Cutting for Stone
One Summer
The Year of Fog
Winter Garden
The Violets of March
State of Wonder
The Invisible Bridge
The Postmistress
The Scent of Rain and Lightning
Still Missing
The Sandalwood Tree
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
Something Borrowed
The Blue Orchard
Sammy's Hill
In the Woods
Shanghai Girls
The Weight of Water
Water for Elephants
The Color Purple
The One That I Want
The Secret Garden
House Rules
American Wife
Firefly Lane
The Reader
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
The Awakening
Pride & Prejudice
I See You Everywhere

Suggestions will be open until the 19th and then a poll will be added to the sidebar! Hope you can join us!

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Wednesday Sisters Discussion 1

I read this book a couple years ago and LOOOVED it!

I hope everyone else is enjoying it too!

1. Why do you think Frankie finds it so difficult to tell Danny that she’s writing a book when she has no trouble at all confiding this fact to her husband’s boss? What other secrets in the novel are kept and revealed in surprising ways?

2. What did you first make of Brett’s white gloves? What do you think they symbolize, if anything?

3. In The Wednesday Sisters, a writing group helps its members grow in self-awareness and self-confidence. Have you been a part of a group --- perhaps even a reading or writing group --- that has had a similar effect?

4. The women’s movement provides an evolving backdrop to lives of the women in The Wednesday Sisters. How did you relate the experiences of the Wednesday Sisters to events in your own life or in the lives of women you know who experienced it?
5.  Why do you think Clayton chose to set the book in the era and the place that she does? How might the story be different if it were set in the present day? In a major city or a small town, rather than middle class suburban Palo Alto?

Check back Monday for suggestions for October and on the 28th for the last discussion!! Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Things I wonder..

- Why you would enroll your child in preschool when they were not potty trained and normally developing

- How you can handle living with head lice over and over and over again

- How you can justify flies, visible dirt and sticky spots on your kitchen floor, and more carpet stains than normal carpet in your home

- Smoking ANYTHING around your children

- Never letting your child use scissors

- Talking badly about your child in front of them

- Spelling your your child's name so messed up that no one will spell it right, especially when there are normal socially acceptable ways to spell your child's name

- Why you would work two days a week when your significant other doesn't work at all

- Having another child when you cannot afford the first

- How anyone in this country can support a family on 11.63 an hour

- How anyone can say I am overpaid for my job.

What do you wonder?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


This is the second book by Mark Gilleo and the complaints I had about his first book, Love Thy Neighbor, had me leery but I really enjoyed it! It was a fast read, interesting and suspense-filled. 


When Jake Patrick took a summer internship at his estranged father’s corporation, he anticipated some much-needed extra cash and a couple of free meals from his guilty dad. He would never have guessed that he'd find himself in the center of an international scandal involving a U.S. senator, conspiracy, backroom politics, and murder. Or that his own life would hang in the balance. Or that he’d find help – and much more than that – from a collection of memorable characters operating on all sides of the law. Jake’s summer has turned into the most eventful one of his life. Now he just needs to survive it.

From the sweatshops of Saipan to the most powerful offices in Washington, SWEAT rockets through a story of crime and consequences with lightning pacing, a twisting plot, an unforgettable cast of characters, and wry humor. It is another nonstop thriller from one of the most exciting new voices in suspense fiction.

Jake's mom just died and his globe-trotting dad, Peter Winthrop, pops back into the picture.  Jake isn’t above using his slightly guilty dad into giving him a summer job so he can pay off the bills and get ready to head back to grad school after a hiatus to take care of his sickly mom.  While on the job, he reads an interesting fax that implicates his father with a pregnant sweatshop seamstress.  Like his counterpart, Mark in Love Thy Neighbor, Jake has the good guy role down pat.  Must do the right thing.  It’s almost too much, in how they MUST do it.  Why? Other people could take this on, people with experience, but NOPE.  They must do it.  So what does he do? Hooks up with a homeless ex-CIA operative and takes on a very impressive Chinese family with deadly connections.

I liked this book, it isn’t going to win any best book evaaaaaaaaar prizes, but it’s solid.  I would recommend this one over Love Thy Neighbor if you want to check out Gilleo’s work.  I do wish there was more character development.  More questions answered and a more clear cut reason for why people decided on X , Y,  & Z move.  Sometimes it just didn’t flow right, it needed a bit of a connection in thoughts of the characters, if that makes sense. 

Do you ever wonder how your clothes are made? Do you avoid things made in third-world countries?


Mark Gilleo holds a graduate degree in international business from the University of South Carolina and an undergraduate degree in business from George Mason University. He enjoys traveling, hiking and biking. He speaks Japanese. A fourth-generation Washingtonian, he currently resides in the D.C. area. His first two novels were recognized as finalist and semifinalist, respectively, in the William Faulkner-Wis- dom creative writing competition.

I reviewed this book through Partners In Crime Tours.  All thoughts and opinions are my own!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Looking for Alaska - Discussion 2

Sorry that this post is up late! I came to write it on Friday and my Internet was down and then yesterday was super busy! Hope you are enjoying a nice lonnnng weekend!

I really liked this book.  I liked the pretense of searching for A Great Perhaps.  I liked the boarding school setting.  I liked the characters.  It was a nice refreshing read. 

Here are some excerpts from an interview with John Green about the book.

Q. In that vein, just how autobiographical is Looking for Alaska?
A. I have always danced around this question, and I think I’m going to continue dancing around it now. Like Miles, I grew up in Florida and attended a boarding school in Alabama. And the physical setting of Alaska is very, very similar to the physical place I attended boarding school. Generally, the book is probably more autobiographical than I usually acknowledge. But it is very much a work of fiction. The facts, I can assure you, were ignored.

Q. What was the catalyst for this novel?
A. In the study of religion, there is this word theodicy, which refers to the question of why a God who is both loving and all powerful would allow there to be such unequal suffering in the world. In college, when I started to study religion, that was the question that interested me most. So in some ways, that was the catalyst for the novel. After I graduated from college, I worked for a while at a children’s hospital, where I encountered the same problem in stark, awful reality. It was in the hospital that I started to think about writing a story in which teenagers experience loss and a consuming guilt that cannot be easily assuaged. I started writing it just a few months after I left the hospital.

Q. How did you come up with the book’s unusual structure?
A. I’d been working on the book with very limited success for about 18 months before September 11, 2001. And then in the days after 9/11, I was alone in my apartment in Chicago watching the commercial-free news 24 hours a day. On TV, people kept saying that this was a defining moment for my generation of Americans, that we would all remember the world in terms of before 9/11 and after it. And I thought about how time is usually measured that way: Christians date from before and after the birth of Christ. Muslims date from before and after the hijrah. We look back to the most important moment in our history, and that becomes the dividing line between what we were and what we are now. So I wanted to reflect on the way we measure and think of time. And also, for the characters in Alaska, there is a moment that changes their lives forever, and that redefines their understanding of the world. I wanted the importance of that moment to be central to the novel’s structure.

Q. And finally: In the “Some Last Words on Last Words” section at the end of Looking for Alaska, you write, “I was born into Bolivar’s labyrinth, and so I must believe in the hope of Rabelais’ Great Perhaps.” Would you expand on this? And are there ever any truly last words?
A. The Dutch title of Alaska is Het Grote Misschien, which means The Great Perhaps. But if you type it into Babel Fish, it translates Het Grote Misschien as “The Big Maybe.” I’m undecided as to whether there are ever any truly last words. That’s the big maybe. As for the quote cited above, I mean that I believe in hope, in what is sometimes called “radical hope.” I believe there is hope for us all, even amid the suffering-and maybe even inside the suffering. And that’s why I write fiction, probably. It’s my attempt to keep that fragile strand of radical hope, to build a fire in the darkness.

And now onto some questions for YOU.

1. Has this novel changed the way you regard human suffering? And death?

2. One of the characters, Dr. Hyde says, “Everything that comes together falls apart.” Do you think the author agrees? How does he deal with this Zen belief in his novel?

3. Alaska loves these two lines from the poet W. C. Auden: “You shall love your crooked neighbor / With your crooked heart.” What do these lines mean to you and why do you think Alaska likes them so much?

4. This novel is filled with wonderful characters. Who is your favorite? Why? Do you know any people like these characters?

5. Can you imagine Miles and the Colonel as adults? What might they be like? What professions do you suppose they might choose?

Hope you join us in September!!!