Wednesday, December 3, 2008


I am running behind, but that just seems to go along with this time of year, doesn't it?! Okay, first things first...THANK YOU to Bonnie for Hosting in October for The Last Lecture discussion. Of course the food was delish and the commentary on the book was teary and heartfelt. It was a great evening.

Second, THANK YOU to Lorraine for hosting last night for Tallgrass. Again, great food. (I am salivating over the mere thought of the apple pie). Lorraine also had a few questions to pose, accompanied by adorable gifts for those of us who remembered the details. I think the consensus for this book was positive. We talked until after nine and left with full bellies and happy hearts.

Housekeeping. We did talk about what to read next and came to a decision. We will read Marley & Me for a January meeting at Karalea's house (4th Tuesday at 7 pm). We also decided for February we would read A Town Like Alice and Mary Lou will host. Enjoy your holidays. See you in January.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Take a Little Trip

What an enjoyable evening at Melissa's home tonight. Number one, her new house is looking so great and number two...THE FOOD! Always a highlight for my blogging, the food for this book club was wonderful. Melissa put together a few scrumptious dishes from the various places our dear, sweet Undine visits in this month's read, Custom of the Country. She tempted us with a French nicoise salad and creamy goat cheese with crackers, Italian bruschetta with thin slices of baugette and a dreamy New York style cheesecake. Not to mention fresh fruit and veg and iced sparkling/still waters. It was heavenly. Thank you so much to Melissa, who worked so hard to make everything so lovely. Huge success.

As for the conversation, Melissa also had some great trivia questions for us to answer and Ring Pop candies (that we could have "re-set" any time) as prizes. Our discussion included the topic of never being satisfied with what you have in the present in your life. We discussed our relation to Undine which seems to border on pure, unabashed hatred and maybe, sometimes, fear of similarity. Overall, I believe the club's feeling for this work of historical literature was "appreciation."

Please note the following change: Our October read will be The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. Here is a little teaser:

"We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand."
--Randy Pausch

A lot of professors give talks titled "The Last Lecture." Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them. And while they speak, audiences can't help but mull the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy?

When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn't have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave--"Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams"--wasn't about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because "time is all you have...and you may find one day that you have less than you think"). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living.

In this book, Randy Pausch has combined the humor, inspiration and intelligence that made his lecture such a phenomenon and given it an indelible form. It is a book that will be shared for generations to come.

This book club meeting will be at Peggy's house on Tuesday, October 27th. In November we will be reading Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas and meeting at Lorraine's home. Happy reading!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Three Cups of Tea

I must say that book club here in Torrance is exceeding my highest expectations. Cia hosted our most recent discussion group and it was perfectly lovely to be gathered together in her beautiful home. She prepared some amazing dishes for us to sample, including tandoori chicken, naan and white bean dip, dates with feta, fresh figs, fresh strawberries with homemade whip cream, pistachio shortbread cookies, almond cake and an almost flour-less chocolate torte. Sparkling water and raspberry herbal tea were there to wash all this goodness down into our happy little tummies! Thank you to Cia for her hospitality. Amazing.

Now, we know that Cia spends her summers abroad and while gone she is visiting family, riding bikes, chasing Thane around the train station and putting in grass with her own two hands, needless to say, there was little time to fit in our humble little book club read. However, Janice stepped up to the challenge of leading the discussion of our book. She did a great job of coming up with engaging questions that drew us back into this great book, about a great guy, trying his best to do a great service. Of course we had to be quizzed, and of course there were enticing prizes to be had! Diana and Kristen walked out with two very fun gifts for being so smart with their reading! Great job girls. I think that the overall feeling for the book was positive. I also think that after we started discussing the book, some opinions may have been changed from, "it was all right" to "that really was a great story!"

Now our next book is Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton. It is another different read for this group and I challenge each of you to get it done! Read it! Expand your repertoire! We will be meeting at Melissa's home the 4th Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Susan's Amish Extravaganza

I have been lackadaisical this last month on keeping the blog updated...mostly thinking that no one checks in on it. But for those of you who may check every now and again, here we go again!!

Book club in July was wonderful. Susan hosted the book The Covenant, by Beverly Lewis and she had a FULL house! Special welcome to Amy and Melissa, first-timers. Susan had a beautiful spread of food; cheese and crackers, peach cake, apple tart, fresh jam and homemade bread, and our new favorite water spiked with fruit and rosemary. It was amazing and tastefully done. We discussed this great book and general Amish culture, touching on similarities we shared with them and also the few things that seemed strange and shocking to us (wild teenage years!! with mom and dad turning the other cheek!)

We also discussed the next book choice and had some wonderful suggestions from all corners of the room...ranging from church books to classics and non-fiction. We settled on Three Cups of Tea, the story of Greg Mortensen for August, which will be hosted by Cia. We also decided that some of us would love to read One Tattered Angel by Blaine Yorgason. Oh, and for those of you who are feeling extra ambitious and want to skip ahead, we will be reading Custom of the Country in September, per Melissa's request. Apparently it is a "classic." I'm excited to expand...aren't you?

That is all for now. I am so thankful for the beautiful, intelligent women who come each month and hope that more will join us. It is always an enriching, fun evening and I can't imagine missing it!! Happy reading everyone!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Bugs on the Table

Wow! Thanks so much to Betty and Kelly for a wonderful night. We were smaller in number, but it was still so wonderful. The spread of food was amazing! Fruit and veg, dip to die for, delicious little cheeses and CHOCOLATE! Bless you both! I must say, that the bugs all over the table really topped it off!

We discussed The Glass Castle by Jeneatte Walls and read some excerpts. It seemed like you could almost turn to any page and get a really great quote from this amazing book. The consensus was that this book was wonderful and awful at the same time.

Our next book is The Covenant by Beverly Lewis and will be held at Susan's home. More info to come.

Friday, June 6, 2008

To Bee or Not to Bee

Wow! Thanks so much to Peggy (and Brittny too) for the amazing night of honey and hot topics. The food was amazing, including such delicacies as honey mango salsa, pecan honey brie, fresh fruit and veg with honey-spiked dips and honey glazed orange slices that were to die for, the array was rounded out with a heavenly beehive shaped cake that was doused in a honey glaze. It was beyond delish. Attendance was high and spirits were too. Conversation jumped from racial tension to motherhood and love and growing up. Always the gracious hostess, Peggy made everyone feel welcome and comfortable to share their thoughts. It was lovely. Thank you so much.

What's next? The Glass Castle by Jeanette is a little summary:

Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn't stand the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an "excitement addict." Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever.

Later, when the money ran out, or the romance of the wandering life faded, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town -- and the family -- Rex Walls had done everything he could to escape. He drank. He stole the grocery money and disappeared for days. As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents' betrayals and, finally, found the resources and will to leave home.

What is so astonishing about Jeannette Walls is not just that she had the guts and tenacity and intelligence to get out, but that she describes her parents with such deep affection and generosity. Hers is a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.

For two decades, Jeannette Walls hid her roots. Now she tells her own story. Aregular contributor to, she lives in New York and Long Island and is married to the writer John Taylor.

Our next Book Club meeting will be hosted by Kelly Martinez and Betty Richardson in Betty's home on Tuesday, July 24th.

Finished already? July's book will be The Covenant by Beverly Lewis

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Muy Interesante

Book club last night was very interesting.

First of all, let me thank Jill Adams for hosting it in her home and providing wonderful, artistic treats. So good. Another positive...a couple of new girls in the mix...Susan and Laura. So nice to have you. One more enjoyable moment...Tobey tormenting Melissa...Janice...Cia...

Now..."on with the show!" There has been some concern with the content of books that have been chosen. I feel like this was very inhibiting to the discussion of the book last night. Many people seemed not to voice opinions (out of fear?), due to the like/dislike voiced by others. Solution?

We agreed that books will have to be previewed in the future by those recommending them. Fine. However, if you do not like the content of the book, follow Bonnie's example; close the book, go on with your life, come to book club and say that you didn't like that book. You're allowed not to like's okay. Thanks Bonnie.

I personally liked the book. I won't house it on my bookshelf. I didn't love it. It wasn't my favorite book ever, in fact it will probably get sold at the next garage sale I host, but I thought the writer did a great job of storytelling. Also, as we discussed in book club, she wrote from a male perspective very convincingly. The flashbacks were great. The old man was grouchy and determined and hilarious. The things that go on in a circus are horrific and disgusting (glad that I'm not a circus worker). That's about the gist of it for last night. Like I said...inhibited conversation.

The next book we will be reading (or not...your choice) is The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. Here is a little blurb that may spark your interest:

Set in the American South in 1964, the year of the Civil Rights Act and intensifying racial unrest, Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees is a powerful story of coming-of-age, of the ability of love to transform our lives, and the often unacknowledged longing for the universal feminine divine. Addressing the wounds of loss, betrayal, and the scarcity of love, Kidd demonstrates the power of women coming together to heal those wounds, to mother each other and themselves, and to create a sanctuary of true family and home.

Book club will be hosted at Peggy's house on Tuesday, May 27th at 7 pm. Happy reading. Happy lives. Happy women. That's what it's all about.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What's Next?

Our next great read is a book by Sara Gruen, titled "Water for Elephants." We will be meeting at Jill Adams home on April 22nd at 7 pm. Hope to see you there!

Yet Again

Last night's book club was wonderful. It was lovely to have smart women in my home and noisy children elsewhere for the evening (thank you so much to Kirts girls for sitting). We discussed Peony in Love by Lisa See. We talked of the protective love of a mother, the drama of teenage girls, "The Mother-in-Law" phenomenon, and the mutilating things women do for beauty (both here and in other cultures). It was so wonderful. Thank you to all who took the time from their busy lives to come. As the hostess, you try your best to make it a nice evening and at the last minute, after candles are lit and music is on, you think, "I hope someone shows up!" So, thank you all for coming.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Success is Sweet

I am happy to report that the book club meeting this month was a huge success. Multiple reasons enter my mind. Reason number one: WE READ! So many women read, whether it was our chosen book (These Is My Words) or the other book (Condie), there was reading going on and that makes me so happy! Reason number two: Janice Hastings. Enough said, no elaboration needed....okay, I'll elaborate: Holy cow! Food, sweets, displays, quizzes with prizes, parting gifts that went with the book...the list goes on. Thank you, thank you, thank you for making it wonderful, Janice. Reason number three: Engaging conversation about everything from Sarah to segregation, pioneers to pecan trees! It is wonderful to be around women with voices. We have chosen book two, as most of you know. It is "Peony in Love" by Lisa See. Here is a synopsis for you:

I finally understand what the poets have written. In spring, moved to
passion; in autumn only regret.

For young Peony, betrothed to a suitor she has never met, the lyrics from The Peony Pavilion mirror her own longings. In the garden of the Chen Family Villa, amidst the scents of ginger, green tea, and jasmine, a small theatrical troupe is performing choice scenes from this epic opera, a live spectacle few girls, even women, have ever seen. Like the heroine in the drama, Peony too is cloistered and from a wealthy family, trapped like a good-luck cricket in a bamboo-and-lacquer cage. Though raised to be obedient, Peony has dreams of her own.

Peony's mother is against the production: “Unmarried girls should not be seen in public.” But Peony's father prevails, assuring his wife that proprieties will be maintained. Women will watch the opera from behind a screen to hide them from view. Yet through its cracks, Peony catches sight of an elegant, handsome man with hair as black as a cave -- and is immediately overcome with too many emotions.

So begins Peony's unforgettable journey of love and destiny, desire and sorrow -- as Lisa See's haunting new novel takes readers back to 17th century China, after the Manchus seize power and the Ming dynasty is crushed. Steeped in traditions and ritual, this story brings to life another time and place -- even the intricate realm of the afterworld, with its protocols, pathways, and stages of existence . . . a vividly imagined place where one’s soul is divided into three, ancestors are worshiped, misdeeds are punished, and hungry ghosts wander the earth.

Based on a true story, Peony in Love uses the richness and magic of the Chinese afterlife to transcend death and explore the many manifestations of love. Ultimately, it’s about universal themes: the bonds of female friendship, the power of words, the desire all women have to be heard, and finally those emotions that are so strong that they transcend time, place, and perhaps even death.

If you want to know more about the author Lisa See, visit her website here. Our next meeting will be at Karalea Richards home on Tuesday, March 25th at 7 pm. See you there! FYI: If you want to read ahead, our April read is "Water For Elephants" by Sara Gruen.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

It Has Begun!

We've made a decision! Our first book club read will be "These is My Words" by Nancy E. Turner. Here is a synopsis:

"Inspired by the author's original family memoirs, this absorbing story introduces us to the questing, indomitable Sarah Prine, one of the most memorable women ever to survive and prevail in the Arizona Territory of the late 1800s. As a child, a fiery young woman, and finally a caring mother, Sarah forges a life as full and fascinating as our deepest needs, our most secret hopes, and our grandest dreams. She rides Indian-style and shoots with deadly aim, greedily devours a treasure trove of leatherbound books, dreams of scarlet velvet and pearls, falls uneasily in love, and faces down fire, flood, Comanche raids, and other mortal perils with the unique courage that forged the character of the American West. This action-packed novel is also the story of a powerful, enduring love between Sarah and the dashing cavalry officer Captain Jack Elliot. Neither the vast distances traveled nor the harsh and killing terrains could quench the passion between them, and the loss and loneliness both suffer only strengthen their need for each other. While their love grows, the heartbreak and wonder of the frontier experience unfold in scene after scene: a wagon-train Sunday spent roasting quail on spits as Indians close in to attack; Sarah's silent encounter with an Indian brave, in which he shows her his way of respect; a dreadful discovery by a stream that changes Sarah forever; the hazards of a visit to Phoenix, a town as hot as the devil's frying pan; Sarah's joy in building a real home, sketching out rooms and wraparound porches. Sarah's story leads us into a vanished world that comes vividly to life again, while her struggles with work and home, love and responsibility resonate with those every woman faces today."

If you would like to know more about this book and others by Nancy, check out her website here. Janice Hastings will be hosting on February 26th. Happy reading!