The Ash Family by Molly Dektar

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Available Here! – The Ash Family by Molly Dektar

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This was my Book Club’s pick for October!  The story wasn’t quite what I was expecting, which is usually a good thing.  The book brought good discussion in our group as there were many interesting topics pertaining to the story.

Berie is the main character who isn’t sure the life she is currently living, is the one she actually wants to be living.  As if her thoughts produced an entity, she meets a somewhat seductive but mysterious guy while waiting at the bus station where she is supposed to be boarding to go to college.  They strike up a conversation, a bit too easily if you ask me since they were strangers to each other.  Here folks is where I realized first how naive Berie’s character was.

Mr. Mysterious convinces her in a very short time whilst standing at the bus station, that she should come with him and visit his family’s farm.  With the promise of this new more exciting life, Berie goes with him……..yes I know what you’re thinking, I thought the same thing.  What on earth is this girl doing.

Once they arrive to the Ash Family Farm, she finds that his family aren’t blood relation, but a community of sorts.  This ‘family’ has been living off the grid, using their own fertile lad to grow food and survive using their own sources.  Berie, now renamed Harmony, renounces her old life and settles into her new one on the farm. She begins to make friends. And then they start to disappear………

This is a strange story and the ending leaves you hanging, but you’ll find yourself shocked, not surprised shocked, but the kind that makes you want to say…WHAT IN THE WORLD IS SHE THINKING.

Book Club Discussion Questions from Luggage and Literature ——

The Ash Family by Molly Dektar Book Club Questions

 

 

Educated by Tara Westover

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This was my Book Club’s pick for September!  I enjoy reading memoirs, although I hadn’t really heard much about this book before it was picked.  The cover was intriguing to me.  I did end up listening to this on audio.  The story stirred up a lot of conversation, a great pick for book clubs!

This story was unreal.  Tara shares with us the tale of how she grew up and how she became something far apart from her upbringing.  She was 17 before she ever entered a class room.  There didn’t seem to be the time between planning for the apocalypse, canning peaches and helping her mother concoct remedies out of herbs for her mothers midwife gig.

Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse.  Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with her mothers tinctures.  The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent.

Tara began educating herself, sometimes hiding behind a chair to do so.  She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust, which was mind blowing that she knew nothing about!

There is so much that goes on in this book, you’ll want to keep reading it.  It was said by a few book club members that they found it a little hard to get into at first, but got better.  Have you read this book or are you reading it in your book club?  Let me know your thoughts!

Available on Amazon – Educated by Tara Westover

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This was my book club’s pick for June!  It stirred up some very good discussions about this tale that reflects upon a true story that happened in Memphis around 1939.

Before We Were Yours follows five children and their life on the Mississippi River upon a shanty-boat.   One night their mother needs to be rushed to the hospital before a storm hits, feeling as though she may be having complications with her pregnancy.  The older of the children, Rill is left in charge.

The next day, strangers arrive at their boat.  No parents in sight.  The children are coaxed off their boat with promises of visiting their mother who is recovering in the hospital.  A lie that starts as a trickle and turns into a churning forceful river.  The children are not taken to the hospital, they are taken to the Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage.

The tale ultimately moves from two stories, one in the past with the children and one in the present with Avery Stafford.  Avery’s character  discovers a long-hidden family secret.  One that will tie both families in together in a way that you won’t expect.

This book is based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country.

Available on Amazon – Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Wonder (Wonder #1) by R.J. Palacio

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This was our May pick for Book Club!  I had started to read this book, then realized that I had already read it before!  So, I decided to check out the movie to see how well it followed the story.  I highly recommend reading the book first before watching the movie as some things are a little different, but both were really great!

Wonder is the story of a young boy named August Pullman  or “Auggie” for short.  He was born with a facial difference, keeping him from attending public school and his mom homeschooling him, until now.   Auggie is about to enter the 5th grade at a public school.   He just wants to be an ordinary kid!  As his classmates and friends get past his differences, all the characters seem to grow in their own way, especially Auggie!

His story will bring tears to your eyes and in the end, triumph in your heart.  A great book for kids and adults alike.

Available on Amazon – Wonder (Wonder #1) by R.J. Palacio

 

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This was our pick for March at our Book Club!  I really enjoyed this book!  It is based on a true story of The Alice Network, a real-life group of female spies in France during World War I.

The Alice Network tells the story of Charlie St. Claire in present day and then bounces into the story of another woman Eve Gardiner’s past.  Charlie is pregnant and is on her way with her mother to ‘take care of her little problem” when she decides now is the time she is going to break free.  She is hoping to find her cousin Rose who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war and now is perfect opportunity.  Charlie heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

In Eve’s story, she is itching to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the “Queen of Spies”, who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.  Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth…no matter where it leads.

I usually have trouble when a story flips between two people’s stories, but I had no trouble with this one!  I’m glad this author decided this story needed to be brought to light again.  It’s fascinating to discover it’s based on a real woman, Louise de Bettignies or Alice Dubois and her story heroism and courage.  I highly recommend this book!!!!

Available on Amazon – The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥

This was our February Book Club pick!  The group discussion was interesting and mildly deep.  Everyone seemed to have liked the book!

I didn’t dislike the book, although I found it to be a lot going on.  I came to a point where I was asking myself ‘what’s the point of this story’, then referenced back to the title.  The title fits it well after reading all the stories and the character’s little fires everywhere in their lives.  I love that in Book Club, I venture out to read things that I normally would pass by without a second look.

I would suggest this book to others as it does set up for a great book club discussion.  The points touched upon in the story eerily pertained to current events in the world and a case in a town not far from where we live.

Via Goodreads:

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When the Richardsons’ friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family – and Mia’s.

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of long-held secrets and the ferocious pull of motherhood-and the danger of believing that planning and following the rules can avert disaster, or heartbreak.

Available on Amazon – Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

King Rat (Asian Saga: Chronological Order #4) by James Clavell

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥

This was our book club pick for January!  It was a good story, although in some spots it seemed to drag on a bit and it took me awhile to get through it.

The story is set in a Japanese POW camp near Singapore in early 1945.  British, Australian and American prisoners are sick, starving and in a dire situation in hopes of being rescued.  All except one American prisoner whom they call “The King”, who somehow manages to eat, live and dress like nothing out of the ordinary while all the others suffer from starvation, skin and bones.

The story revolves around this character, “The King” and his secrets to living as one.  Nearly, everyone depends on the King, though, to make a life-saving trade – a watch for a bowl of rice, $20 for an orange, etc. The King decides to take the unaffected Marlowe under his wing as a sort of junior partner.

The King lets Marlowe in on his adventures and his secrets, something the whole camp would like to know, too.  Soon, the King comes up with a plan to both make money and get revenge on the camp enemies.

I would recommend this book to readers, it’s an interesting story of the length humans will go to survive.

Available on Amazon – King Rat (Asian Saga: Chronological Order #4) by James Clavell

House by Frank E. Peretti, Ted Dekker

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Rating: ♥

Enter House — where you’ll find yourself thrown into a killer’s deadly game in which the only way to win is to lose… and the only way out is in.

The stakes of the game become clear when a tin can is tossed into the house with rules scrawled on it. Rules that only a madman—or worse—could have written. Rules that make no sense yet must be followed.

This was our book club pick for December!  Unfortunately I did not like this book.  I did give it one heart rating for the fast pace story it did hold!

The story to me was very cliche.  A wanna-be scary story that I felt took bits and pieces from other familiar tales I’ve read.  I’ve read one other book by Ted Dekker that I also didn’t really get into.  I gave this one a chance because that’s why I joined book club, to read outside my  normal zones!

After discussing the book at book club, we had a couple members who pointed out the possible significance references to the Bible.  Which, I could see after they described how they portrayed the story.  Where as I just read it as a cheesy wanna-be horror tale.  It did make me realize that in other books I have read, I don’t actually take the time to reflect on the possible second meanings of the stories being told.  I read them how they are, don’t think much about them and move on.  So that will be my ‘take away lesson’ from this one!

Available on Amazon – House by Frank E. Peretti, Ted Dekker

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Book Club Discussion Questions from Luggage and Literature

House Book Club Questions

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This was our Book Club Selection for August!

The Devil in the White City had a super slow start for me, although we were warned at Book Club that this is somewhat how Erik Larson’s books all are…but then about a third of the way through, it got interesting.

The story is several stories in one, it is a book about the White City — the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, and a book about a devil — a psychopathic serial killer.  I enjoyed both stories here, but wasn’t interested with the author’s decision to try to integrate them into one book.  I think the historical pieces about the Chicago’s World’s Fair were great to have in the story to set the place and time, but having all the detail about how the World’s Fair came to be among the murdering madness of H.H. Holmes – it was a bit much.

The White City half certainly dealt with a fascinating cast of characters, architecture was skyrocketing in importance, and Chicago was a hotbed of architectural innovation. And since architects invariably deal with wealth, all the contradictions and surprises of the Gilded Age are brought to the fore.  And perhaps the devil half contained enough meat to reach the topmost tier of true-crime nonfiction.  The social changes seen by the poor — the gilded age’s dark lining, as it were — were just as important as the boardroom side of the story.

The Devil the the White City tells the story of the men and women who shed sweat and tears into making the Chicago Worlds Fair into the most spectacular event of the time period.  It also tells of the women whose blood was shed behind the curtains during the Chicago Worlds Fair – by the hands of the madman Henry H. Holmes, a young doctor who, in a malign parody of the White City, built his “World’s Fair Hotel” just west of the fairgrounds—a torture palace complete with dissection table, gas chamber, and 3,000-degree crematorium.

Available on Amazon – The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson

 

 

 

 

 

The Hamilton Affair by Elizabeth Cobbs

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥

We read this book for last months book club pick!  I didn’t necessarily dislike the story, although I did learn insight into who Alexander Hamilton was and became.  Although I think I was more drawn to his wife, Elizabeth and her story.  The title of the book puts it as plainly as anyone could of guessed, Hamilton has an affair which causes turmoil and ultimately ending in his death.  Hamilton came to America to pursue his education and along the way became a hero of sorts and one of the most controversial leaders of the American Revolution.

Then we get to learn more about his wife Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, daughter of one of New York’s most exalted families—feisty, adventurous, and loyal to a fault.  When she met Alexander, she fell head over heels. She pursued him despite his illegitimacy, and loved him despite his infidelity.  In 1816 (two centuries ago), she shamed Congress into supporting his seven orphaned children.  Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton started New York’s first orphanage. The only “founding mother” to truly embrace public service, she raised 160 children in addition to her own.

The Hamilton Affair tells the tumultuous true love story of Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler, from tremulous beginning to bittersweet ending—his at a dueling ground on the shores of the Hudson River, hers more than half a century later after a brave, successful life.

Available on Amazon – The Hamilton Affair by Elizabeth Cobbs

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Book Club Discussion Questions from Luggage and Literature

The Hamilton Affair Book Club Questions