Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Long-awaited Return of the Blog…

and the return of your blog-mistress: moi:)

First—old business.
It comes to my attention that I never blogged about Kathryn Stockett's The Help. It's a tragedy, my friends—a tragedy!—that I neglected to do this. I will give the you the short version of how that book discussion went down.

It was awesome! Yay! We all loved it! So good, and well-written, yet poignant. The writer really made us feel fear and sorrow, and happiness too. A great book, recommended by all members. A special mention goes to Darline here for making us poo-pie to eat, and to Trisha for letting us invade her home:)

Next order of business—Blog layout.
I went for stylish, sophisticated, 100% pure classy. Just like the members of the Third Tuesday Book Club. Share you love/hate/feedback/thoughts in the comments.

The Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger

This book did not go over well with the members of the Third Tuesday Book Club. While it certainly did not rival Elegance of the Hedgehog in suckage, it wasn't so great. I will, now and always, hold the award for choosing the worst book of all time…so stop trying to pick bad books to steal my honour, Jeanette! Hahaha.

Either way, I am not going to dwell or spend a lot of time doing the book write up for this one. No-one really enjoyed it or contributed a lot, and I have many other items to cover in this post.

So…moving on!
The next few months have seen some date changes, venue changes, and book selection changes. Pay attention...LOL. Here is the schedule from now until January 2011.

September
Third Tuesday, the 23rd.
Meeting Place: Sue's house.
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Reading: Little Bee by Chris Cleave
All are welcome. Check your inbox for directions, and bring a snack if you want.

October
Fourth Tuesday, the 26th
Meeting Place: Chapters
Time: TBA…check back soon (Trisha? Time?)
Reading: Sarah Gruen's The Ape House
All are welcome. We will be seeing Sara Gruen do a reading from The Ape House.

November
Fourth Tuesday, the 23rd
Meeting Place: Chapters
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Reading: Suzanne Collins' The Mocking Jay
All are Welcome. Can't wait to see you there.

December
TBA—Dinner and fabulosity

January 2011
Third Tuesday, the 18th
Meeting Place: Chapters
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Reading: The Bishop's Man (tentative?)

Blogmistress' Note:
OK, so I think that's it ladies. Don't forget, this blog is now my one and only blog, so don't see surprised to see a few sporadic personal pirate-like entries from time to time. It's less work, and I have a really funny life sometimes, so why not simplify, and bring it all together, eh? LOL

Lastly, as the lists in the sidebar have also been updated, please refer to the blog if you need clarification on times, dates, venues, or titles. Any and all emails asking for such information will be sent back with swear words in them, and a message directing you to the *expletive* blog.

With the new look comes the turning of a new leaf for the blog. Look for a little more awesomeness moving forward.

*Be excellent to each other*

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

August meeting

For anyone who missed the July meeting: for August we will meet at the usual time and place, but the date has been delayed by one week to accomodate some members who are on holiday.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Update on the Blog Format

Hi all,

Noticeably, the blog seems to have lost it's format. I plan to fix it in the next few days, along with posting the notes from the July soiree.

The format monster also destroyed my Pirate blog—which I have neglected to fix. Instead, it's been deleted. (Well, it will be in a few days as soon as I rip all of the material off it.) I can barely keep up with this blog, let alone the Pirate blog. I may just amalgamate the few anecdotes that appeared on the Pirate blog to the Book Club blog. It will give the Book Club blog a bit of life—what do you guys think?

Look forward to a new look and a new post soon!

J

Sunday, June 27, 2010

May and June—Tatiana DeRosnay's Sarah's Key and Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games

The true apex of slackerism has been reached. I neglected to get May's blog up before June's meeting. Shame on myself. But…in celebration of my slacker-self, you are going to get treated to a double feature! That's right boys and girls! Two months, one mega-blog post. So, without further ado…

In May we met and discussed Tatiana DeRosany's Sarah's Key. This book fit in really well with our discussion of Ursula Hegi's Stones from the River, because both books dealt with themes of being different during World War II. DeRosany's story connects Sarah, a French Jewish girl living in France during the Vel d'Hiv round-up, with an American ex-pat female reporter, Julia, living in France during present day.

Predictably, Sarah's story is connected to Julia's. Julia's story serves only to follow Sarah's. This novel's real strength lies in Sarah's story. Tragic and heartbreaking, we follow brave Sarah as she tries to save her brother from the French police, as she escapes from a Nazi camp, and as she finally escapes from France. Her story revolves around the real-life events of the Vel D'hiv round-up, which saw French police arresting Jews over the course of two days on Nazi orders. The Jews were kept for days on end in the Vel d'Hiv, a velodrome. The conditions were unsanitary, horrifying, and inhumane. Eventually, when the French police realized that the surviving prisoners must be moved, or die, the separated the parents from the children. The parents were shipped to Nazi camps, and eventually killed. The children were kept for a few more days. Not knowing what to do with the children, it was decided that they would make it appear as though they were being shipped to work camps. In reality, the children of the Vel d'Hiv were taken directly the to the gas chambers.

This novel's biggest draw is the lesson that it teaches about the real life events at the Vel d'Hiv. It was not an event that I knew a lot about before reading this novel. It is another book that goes to show that the Germans did not act alone—there were so many other offenders. This brings up the theme of survivalism vs. speaking out. If you care to debate this, do so in the comments—but keep it friendly, please. This novel also eloquently portrays the fear and the confusion experienced by the French Jews during the Second World War. Sarah could not understand why being a Jew made her an enemy. She struggled with the events of the tragic round-up throughout her life. In America, she has a son, but keeps his heritage a secret; her secret. She takes her secret to her grave with her.

Then there's Julia. Aside from the connection to Sarah via her scoundrel husbands family tree, Julia's story was nothing more than chick-lit. Quite frankly, it bored me. I have read book after book after book that shows a good and strong woman acting foolishly to try to hang on to a man who doesn't deserve hanging onto. She does eventually kick him to the curb, but it takes frickin' long enough. The Julia portion of the story, in my opinion, was only "meh." It only existed to move Sarah's story along. As Christine said, "I could have gone with a lot less Julia and a lot more Sarah."

In June, we met and discussed Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games. For teen fiction, this novel packs a real punch! Every member of The Third Tuesday Book Club LOVED this book, and the sequel, Catching Fire. Oh, except for Helen…lol. Helen called this book predictable, but readable. It is, after all, teen fiction, so it is written to be what I think of as "eatable."

FYI: our discussion of The Hunger Games morphed into a discussion of Catching Fire too.

One word used to describe The Hunger Games and Catching Fire: addictive. Poor Trisha. She couldn't even enjoy Prospero's long, long monologues when she went to see The Tempest in Stratford. She just wanted to read, read, read The Hunger Games. LOL:)

This book drew comparisons to Stephen King's The Stand, The Running Man, and The Long Walk. It was very much in this vein of story-telling. Interesting The Stand fact: Christine spent her teenage years obsessing over Harold Louder. It was really strange, but she got over it by the time she turned 26 or so:D

The Hunger Games is most certainly a commentary on American culture. The district that Kat lives in is part of a place called Panem, for crying out loud. Panem? Pan-Am? Clearly American commentary. The interesting theory of the night comes courtesy of Darline. While the focus of the biting satire is obvious, where/what is the capitol? Is it Washington? Maybe. But it is more likely that it is Hollywood, or a hybrid Washington/Hollywood. Why Hollywood? Think about where the power of America lies today. In the capitol, think of all of the plastic, and hair, and crazy make-up, the silly parties, the ridiculous lengths of excess—it all screams Hollywood. And then there is the games themselves. Death and torture for nothing more than to entertain/pacify the masses. To remind them of the capitols almighty power over the people. It really changes the way that one reads this novel.

Another hot topic of conversation was Cinna. We see that he has been beaten and dragged away—but is he dead? Some, like me, refuse to believe that he is. No! Not Cinna! Others believe that his role and mission have been fulfilled, and so it seems plausible that he is dead. We'll have to revisit these theories when the third installment, The Mocking Jay, is released.

Lead character Katniss is strong, smart, and savvy. And yet, she does not recognize the efforts of District 13 during her second time in the ring. Why not? Because Katniss only seems to know two things: Survive or die. It has all that she has ever known. She does not want to be married or have children, either, to prevent any future offspring to being exposed the the horror of the Reaping.

Which begs on final, pressing, question: Gayle or Peta? Read the books, and let me know what you think in the comments. Myself? I am totally on Team Gayle! But, the Third Tuesday Book Club was quite divided on this one!


Admin:
Our next meeting is July 20 at Trisha's house. Everyone, keep an eye on your inboxes for directions and Trisha's address. We are going to be discussing Kathryn Stockett's The Help. If you haven't started this book yet, you are in for a treat! Can't WAIT to discuss this awesome novel! I believe that the 7:30 time remains.

For our August 17 meeting we will be discussing Jeanette's pick—Kate Pullinger's The Mistress of Nothing. As far as I know, this meeting will be taking place in the usual place at the usual time.

Sue has picked Chris Cleave's Little Bee for September. Trisha has selected The Mocking Jay for October. I have no idea what I am picking for November! And don't forget that Helen has already selected The Bishop's Man by Linden MacIntyre for January.

A Very Important Message:
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Sunday, May 9, 2010

April – Ursula Hegi's Stones from the River

To start, who is this slacker-type who writes these blog posts so late? Well I can tell you one thing about that young lady…she's great! I mean, sure. She's a bit slow. She has strange hair, weirder opinions, and the mentality of a 14-year old, but she does get them up eventually, doesn't she?

In April, the Third Tuesday Book Club met and discussed Ursula Hegi's Stones from the River. This book was Darline's pick. She'd read it years ago and remembered loving it. But upon re-reading it in anticipation for our meeting she thought, "Uh-oh. I'm not sure about this. It's a bit plotty." If by plotty Dar meant sloooooow, then yep. Plotty it is.

I remember telling Lynn that every time I opened this book, my soul hurt. I didn't mean that it ached for main character Trudi. I meant that it hurt. Each word, each sentence, each paragraph, raked at my reader's soul.

However, to qualify the above statements, I would like to make very clear that some members of the Third Tuesday Book Club really, thoroughly enjoyed this book. (*cough* Sue!) Revolving around Trudi, a dwarf coming of age in Germany during World War Two, this book told the tales of people living in a village that each harboured their own differences. From Trudi's mad mother to her friend George whose mother dresses him as a girl, Trudi learns that everyone is different, just sometimes not as outwardly as she.

As always, when I haven't finished the book (*ahem*), I try to create a post based on the notes taken during the meeting. So, here goes my attempt. As the theme goes with many war-era books, the subject of sympathy vs. survival is prevalent. Trudi's father is quoted as saying that he "fears for the people of Germany, and their need for one, strong leader." Trudi's father, having been on the front lines during World War One, knew that Germany's allegiance to their leader would be their downfall. The "Hitler is my leader," mentality just didn't fly with Trudi's dad—a sympathizer who hide Jews in his basement. And yet, as far as the sympathy v. survivalism goes, this argument came up often in this novel. In essence, it's difficult to say what you would do, until you are in the situation. Please note that this paragraph only contains a description of the conversation and the topics that we pondered during our discussion. I'm not trying to be controversial, so don't blast me in the comments, okay?

We also discussed Hegi's ability to build her characters, which she did rather nicely. Each character really develops throughout the novel—most notably, Trudi. Trudi, while at times self-destructive, is strong, and her characters serves as an inspiration to the others around her.

Lastly, Helen poignantly brought up that genocide is not exclusive to World War Two. It happens too often, too recently, and it is all too much of a reality in world, and during a time, when it should be abhorred.

Tune in next month, when we will actually be continuing this conversation after reading Tatiana DeRosnay's Sarah's Key—a novel about another young girl whose Jewish family is arrested by the French police, who were acting on the orders of German nazis.

Admin:
We're meeting this month on May 18, at The Usual Spot, at 7:30. We will be discussing Tatiana DeRosnay's Sarah's Key.

Vanessa will be late, as Logan has his first soccer game! Yea! Jeanette probably won't be there if her beloved Pens are playing, but I'm sure they'll have been ousted from the playoffs by then anyways. (*I kid! I kid! Don't hurt me!*)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

March – The Tenth Gift by Jane Johnson

This month, we met and discussed Jane Johnson's The Tenth Gift. Admittedly, I have been less-than kind to last few books that we've read. And with reason; they lacked story-telling. Johnson's novel is the polar opposite. She weaves two stories together seamlessly, and spins a tale of love and pirates. For those of you that have been to my blog Pirates Dig Chicks Who Blog, I'm sure that you can imagine that for me—love and pirates are one in the same.

It took me a while to warm up to this book. A hundred pages to be exact. Literally. On page one hundred the game changer occurs, and what a tale follows. At first, I found myself immensely interested in only Julia's story of love, betrayal, ass-holery, and adultery. I cared little about Cat's story. It just seemed so…typical. But then, oh then, on page one hundred, Cat's congregation is taken by pirates to be sold into slavery, and that is where the tale begins.

The story opens with Julia getting dumped by Michael, who's married to her best friend, Anna. Michael is the King of Assholes. As a consolation prize for being his mistress for seven years, Michael gifts Julia with a book of embroidery patterns. Julia, crushed and angry, turns to the book to look for comfort in the patterns. She did not expect to find, written in the margins, Cat's tale of daily life as it existed for her before she was taken. We get a chance to follow Julia as she deals with the pain of being jilted by her married lover, and all the while Julia also helps a friend through her own personal tragedy, while she reads on about Cat's fate and deals with the guilt and shame she's felt since she became involved with Michael seven years ago. Julia is broken and damaged, yet strong. So, when she decides to travel to Morocco to learn more about Cat's fate, she actually embarks on a journey of self-discovery—and of course, romance.

Cat's tale started only luke-warm for me. She was your typical fair maiden with long red hair who was beautiful, ambitious, and full of gumption. She was slated to marry her cousin, Robert, but she dreamed of a life of far-off adventure. Feeling trapped by the idea of marriage to Robert, Cat recklessly entertains gypsy's palm-reading—which assures her that she'll never marry as Catherine Anne Tregenna. For me, this is where the story really picked up. Cat's talent for embroidery garners her special attention almost immediately—particularly when she is commission to sew the rais' (head pirate) gaping wounds and care for him afterward. Due to her special talents, Cat's sale price on the bidding docks is infinitely higher than that of everyone else's. She ends up being bought by a wealthy man who commissions her to teach the other women in his employ to embroider the most beautiful and intricate works. *Spoiler Alert* It turns out that the pirate rais is the wealthy man who bought Cat, and that they're in Pirate-love. (Woot woot! Go Cat!) This is all much to chagrin of Robert, who's spent the better part of the year in deplorable conditions to rescue his beloved. He finds Cat just at the moment that she and the rais declare their love for one another. How…dramatic!

**For the record, the pirate rais, in my mind, looks like Dogen from Lost. Meow!

Indeed, this novel does not lack in story telling, and the tales that occur over the two time-lines, seem to flow seamlessly. But the story is not without it's flaws. Michael, for starters, should have been left behind. But through a series of events, his wife allows him to stay even after confronting Julia about the seven-year affair, and he ends up making out pretty well. He wanted the embroidery book back when he discovered its worth, and he manages to weasel a deal even there. His wife stays with him because she, "loves him." Blech!

The loser in this story should have been Michael, but the loser from Julia's timeline is Michael's wife Anna, who chooses to hang on to him. In Cat's timeline, Robert saves another girl, Maddy, who is his second choice if you will. He brings her home and then refuses to get over Cat for the rest of his gin-soaked life. Poor Maddy.

The best thing about this book—besides the pirate love—was learning about the reverse slave-trade. Many of us, while aware that it existed, did not realize just how commonplace it was.

A pretty decent read overall.

Admin:
This month we are meeting on April 20 @ 7:30—usual spot. We will be reading Ursula Hegi's Stones from the River.

Welcome to the new followers that have found their way to The Third Tuesday Book Club Blog. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and/or suggestions!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

February – DeNiro's Game by Rawi Hage

So, this month we met and discussed Rawi Hage's DeNiro's Game…sort of. See, when the members of The Third Tuesday Book Club don't really like a book, let's just say the conversation turns to other worthy, upstanding, socially relevant topics, such as vamporn (this is exactly what it sounds like, and is directly related to True Blood—TV series and Harris' book series), Sex and the City, Lost, and yes—even Twilight.

Anyways, we did manage to get in a bit of discussion. I think it's a safe assumption at this point to say that we didn't like the book much at all. It was impossible for any of us to relate to the characters, and because of this—it was hard for us to care what happened to them. Helen did bring up a good point that deserves further exploration: we have NO idea what it's like to grow up in a war-torn country. While this is true, and I would never argue this point, I still feel that main characters George and Bassaum did little, if any thing at all to change their conditions. Especially George, who had family in France, and an offer of a visa and way out. Instead of embracing the chance to leave, and change his situation, he opts for the cheap feeling of power gained by joining and moving up the ranks of a local militia group. George, who could have gotten away from the horror instead chooses—and yes, I am actively suggesting that he chooses—to end up a coked-up rapist and pillager, a deliverer of horror and violence, and a killer—of innocents and himself.

The other character, Bassaum, is a cowardly snake. He lies, cheats, steals, and expects us to feel sorry for him. And we don't. We can't. So despite the fact that we don't know what it's like to grow up in a war-torn country, we still cannot identify with Bassaum and George. Not because we cannot empathize with their situations, but because we cannot support the decisions that they make during times of strife.

This book was like a cheap ripoff of Housseni's The Kite Runner, so if you really loved this book, go ahead and give DeNiro's Game a try. Other than that, I can't say that I'd recommend this book, and it pales in comparison to Housseni's work.

Now, as mentioned, The Third Tuesday Book Club sometimes ends up going way, WAY off topic, and Hage's novel really brought this out in all of us this month. Since no one was feeling the book, we just chatted about all of the things that we like most, and Trisha has asked me to share some exciting dates with you.

Charlaine Harris' latest installment of the Sookie Stackhouse Series, Dead in the Family, will be released on May 4, 2010.
True Blood: Season 2 will be released on May 25, 2010.
Season 3 of True Blood will start June 13 on HBO.
New Moon is released on DVD on March 20, 2010.
Season 1 of True Blood will be airing on the Space Network—for those of you without HBO, myself included—on March 14, 2010.

So, yes—these are the things that we love, besides books, of course. Some of you have asked me to re-post the order in which we are selecting books, so without further ado:

April – Darline
Darline has selected Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi.

May – Vanessa
Vanessa has selected Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

June – Paddy
Paddy has selected The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

July – Lynn
Lynn has selected The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Aug – Sue (TBA)
Sept – Trisha (TBA)
Oct – Jenn (TBA)
Nov – Jeanette (TBA)
Jan – Helen (TBA)
Feb – Christine (TBA)

As well, please remember that, despite our name, we are actually meeting on the fourth Tuesday in March. We will be discussing Jane Johnson's The Tenth Gift. See everyone on March 23, at the usual spot at 7:30.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

January – The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher

The suspicions of Mr. Whicher left The Third Tuesday Book Club feeling, well, suspicious. Of whom? Mr. Whicher. And maybe of Kate Summerscale, the writer. For a book whose title suggests that it will be about the undoing of a Victorian detective, it left many of our book club members wonder how exactly Mr. Whicher was undone.

This book is actually based on a true crime, and the real life of Detective Whicher. It takes place during the Victorian era in England. During this time, detectives were fairly unheard of, distrusted, and had to solve the crimes that they investigated or else risk losing credibility. Tragically, as Whicher investigated the crime that novel focuses on, he realizes that he is unable to provide a solid whodunnit, and is therefore cast into obscurity.

Most of us liked the crime story best. Surprising, because the crime story was actually only supposed to serve as the back-story to the main plot: Whicher's undoing. However, the crime story was far more interesting. It was a classic murder-mystery, with a number of suspects, all with their own motives or circumstances that pointed to them as suspects. Theirs was the ageless tale of betrayal, adultery, and money. Jealous children, jealous wives, and a family run amok with syphilis courtesy of the typical "Can't Keep it in his Pants" patriarch—the sensational possibilities write themselves! Anyone could have been responsible for the untimely demise of the victim. The thing that made this story truly sad instead of sensational was the fact that the victim was only three years old. Hardly old enough to defend himself—a true innocent.

While many of us agreed that the crime story was the highlight, we all agreed that Summerscale lost focus in the story about Whicher's undoing. Some of us felt that the book was lacking, and could have been much longer in order to give enough details about how exactly the case caused Whicher's undoing. Others of us felt that book was faaaaar too long. It read like a police report a lot of the time—and it had the ability to drag a little. So much so, that a couple of members who started this book could not finish it. One of these members of whom I speak is a notorious book-finisher, and it is rare that she meets a book so slow, that she opts to put in down half-read. That being said, there were other members who loved this book a lot.

Those that loved the book cited a few reasons, the main one of which being the very exciting murder-mystery aspect. Other things that readers enjoyed were the commentary that the book offered on Victorian society and social rules of the time. That is, that appearance was everything. If you were upper-crust, you had it all (even the syph! Yay!)—or did you? Dah dah dah! Readers also enjoyed reading about the forensics used during the time period. Very interesting stuff!

Confession time: I did not read this book, so every time I referred to "us" above, what I really meant was, every body in the Third Tuesday Book Club except me. And yet, I still managed to bang out an amazing blog. (kidding, kidding)

Admin:
Time for more picks: Here's the schedule. Be ready to pick your book two to three months ahead of time.

April – Darline

Darline has selected Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi. Check out Amazon.ca or Chapters.ca for this one, as Chapters only had one paper-copy on hand.

May – Vanessa

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

The rest are TBA.

June – Lynn
July – Paddy
August – Sue
Sept – Trisha
Oct – Jenn
Nov – Jeanette

I know we have a couple new members, and we'll tack'em onto the end somewhere in there!

Next meeting is Tuesday Feb 16 @ 7:30. We will be reading and discussing DeNiro's Game by Rawi Hage. See everyone there!