BOOK REPORTERS, G-O
BOOK REPORTERS, P-Z
27 Ingredient Chili Con Carne Murders by Nancy Pickard
Bonnie Deakins, Thorntown Public Library: One lady made the recipe – all loved it! I explained the Cozy mystery concept, and promoted 4 other culinary mystery authors.
Phyllis A. Hawkins, Four Seasons Senior Living Community: The group had a tasting party with the 27 ingredient chili con carne. Good food and fellowship.
Anita Murphy, Jasper-Dubois Co. Public Library, Dubois: Mixed feelings. The book starts off very slow. Several unresolved situations in the story. But we all enjoyed eating the chili that one of our group made and the Bread Pudding.
Gloria Marsh, Indianapolis: Some participants found the author/main character annoying and self-aggrandizing. The format and time period appealed to us. There is a movie based on this book – some of us may enjoy that. We discussed the reasons why a person who’d developed such a close relationship by correspondence never cared to travel to England and meet the characters that she’d grown to care for.
Anita Sautter, South Whitley Public Library: Those 50 and older loved the book. The younger ladies read it but were not crazy about it! Good discussion.
Jane Hall, Argos Public Library: Well received by all.
Jackie Osting, Hancock Co. Public Library: Great discussion – thanks for lending the books. Tip: bring show and tell!
Wendi West, Tipton Public Library: While informative, the book seemed “textbook” and did not hold the reader’s attention. We gave it an average of 2.5 out of 5 stars.
This book is no longer available from Novel Conversations.
Judy Stolz, Lexington Book Club, Scottsburg: Enjoyed discussion. Several will watch movie also.
Mary Hartman, Kendallville: Overall liked the book, but it wasn’t a favorite for anyone.
Ann Haw, Franklin: Book led to good discussion. Especially interesting characters.
Cynthia Webb, Paoli Public Library: Not the most popular choice for our group.
Jan Harris, Lafayette: Some did not read the entire book but still good discussion.
Ahab’s Wife or The Star Gazer by Sena Jeter Naslund:
Hope Wilson, Fremont Public Library: Everyone loved this selection!
Lorie Long, Morgan Co. Public Library, Monrovia: Readers liked the book a good deal, but the first half is very slow moving. Some who read the book had trouble remembering all the characters and names. We had a very lively discussion. Good for book clubs overall.
Edith Helbert, Allen Co. Public Library, Hessen Cassel Branch: Our group really enjoyed reading this book. However, it is a book that shouldn’t be rushed! Our members, primarily retired women, (one retired man, and two still-working women) recommended that you start early and give yourself plenty of time. It’s also recommended that you take notes, as there are lots and lots of characters who pop up again over time. One person said there are “as many characters as Middle Earth has!”
Several members wished that they had a better grasp of American History of the period, as there were lots of elements (storms, fires, people) that probably happened in real life, and we wished we’d known a little better what was borrowed from history and what the author created.
Several people commented that the book went on too long, which was also a complaint addressed by many of the critical reviews. The story could have ended shortly after Captain Ahab’s death (a spoiler only if you’ve never heard of Moby Dick) and everyone would have been happy with it. Instead, Naslund tries to wrap up all the loose endings, and takes 200 (very hard to read) pages to do it. Our group wanted to tell the author, “It’s okay if you don’t alwatys get everything resolved. Real life isn’t like that. Sometimes you never find out what happened to a minor character, and it’s okay to let the reader wonder.”
Overall, everyone was glad they read Ahab’s Wife. We all found nuggets of wisdom in an exciting, if occasionally ridiculously unbelievable, adventure narrative.
Airframe by Michael Crichton
Gloria Marsh, Indianapolis: We liked the character development and tech explanations up to a point. (Some of us skimmed over detailed descriptions.) Talk segued into “one time I was on a plane” sorts of things. Demise of journalism discussion was interesting.
Mindy Patterson, Kendallville Public Library: We loved this read, not because of the plot, but because of the obvious research and detail it portrayed. Well written.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho:
Wanda Bennett, Ladoga-Clark Twp. Public Library: Some liked, some didn’t.
Karen Boots, Tippecanoe County Public Library: People liked the book. Many commented on the positive nature of the book and its accessibility.
Mooresville Public Library: Everyone had diverse opinions about the book, especially about the meaning of the story.
Linda Magers, Fairmount Public Library: Read it with an open mind. It is thought provoking. Don’t let the title guide you, it is deceptive.
Anita Murphy, Jasper-Dubois Co. Contractual Library, Dubois: Had a very lively discussion on personal goals, following your dreams, religion and faith.
Bill Fox, Jeffersonville: Very informative. Has a lot of history. One of our members is a Corps of Engineers retiree. He got a real kick out of it since he had lived the engineering part.
Melissa Hunt, Mishawaka Penn-Harris Public Library: Almost all of the students really loved The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax and the character of Emily Pollifax. It was a great book to kick off this year’s high school book club.
Ann Haw, Franklin: This is a fun book. Mrs. Pollifax is a hoot. It helps if you make a list of characters as you read, as it is difficult to remember some of their names later.
Louise Wolpert, Adams Public Library, Decatur: Consensus is great book and half the group wants to read more in the series.
Cheryl Miller: Shelby Co. Public Library: Prepare your group for an intellectual read and give them copies of the Introduction to the Twentieth Anniversary Edition, written by Andrew Postman, Neil’s son. (Most of the books in Indiana Humanities’ collection are older versions & do not contain this important update.) the book truly is more relevant than ever. People who prefer light reading will probably not delve into this book; it’s more like coursework. Not everyone in my group read every chapter, but most came for the discussion and said they were glad they di. We went past our usual hour & a half. Two weeks after the discussion, we will watch “The Truman Show” movie, starring Jim Carrey, just for fun.
Anathema by Colleen Coble:
Maria Axtman, Brownsburg: This book generated a great discussion and was a great page-turner.
Andrea Basinger, Garrett Public Library: We all loved this book!
Shondra Brown, Wakarusa Public Library: Mixed reviews on the book; a few thought the beginning was slow and hard to get into. Others felt the ending was rushed. Overall, Anathema made for a great discussion, especially since we are a small town with Amish in our community.
Becky Gremore, Covington Public Library: They all really liked this book. My group is a Christian Fiction Book Club. It’s sometimes hard to pick something suitable that I can get enough copies of. This really fit the bill.
Phyllis A. Hawkins, Four Seasons Retirement Community, Columbus: The group enjoyed the review of this book. Truly appreciate being a part of Novel Conversations.
Marsha Jones, Troyer Memorial Library, La Fontaine: We discussed each of the five women and their relationships, problems, backgrounds, etc. Contains beginnings and second chances, the power of forgiveness, understanding and the laughs. Reveals the saving grace of best friends through 40 years during the 60s, 70s, 80s & 90s.
Lisa Lanham, Indianapolis Re-Entry Facility: This was a jewel. The bereavement theme touched the men deeply while the overall message of the book was uplifting for them.
Nicole Kirchoff, Shelbyville Middle School: We cancelled our meeting because nobody could get through the book beyond 70 pages.
Marsha Jones, Troyer Memorial Library, La Fontaine: Codi had to learn to confront her past and learn to attack despair. Had a bad picture of herself. Loyd was a philosopher and taught her a lot about herself & life. There was sadness, joy, humor, and insight in the book. She changed her attitude when going through the attic. Doc Homer gave himself to the town to make up for his family background, but never had time for the girls. Outstanding characters were Codi, Hallie, Doc, Loyd, Viola, Emmaline, Uda Dell. Peacocks and blue eyes and railroad facts.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver
Lynell Wolff, Mishawaka Penn-Harris Public Library: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver: Kingsolver is an excellent writer and at times the book was even funny. She was very generous in sharing all she learned but sometimes got a little “preachy”, making a few readers feel guilty for their food choices. Book group had a very good discussion.
Shannon Phipps, Switzerland Co. Public Library: We had a very interesting discussion about the challenges of eating locally and the poor eating habits so many people have today.
Teresa Dustman, Wells Co. Public Library: I think I only asked 2 guiding questions – this book really lent itself to discussion!
Lynell Wolff, Mishwaka-Penn-Harris Public Library: Very well written – a somewhat mystical tale. Alternating chapters from one time period to another was a little confusing, but the poetic and peaceful story telling style of the author captured the attention and hearts of many. Great discussion.
Jan Harris, Lafayette: We enjoyed this book and the story.
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein:
Sheila Urwiler, Starke County Public Library: Everyone loved this title and most were surprised at its depth and wisdom.
Donna Browne, Muncie Public Library: Mixed reviews on the book, but everyone loved telling dog stories.
Melissa Hunt, Mishawaka-Penn Harris Public Library: Loved the book, with animal view very unique. Enjoyable.
Lynell Wolff, Mishawaka-Penn Harris Public Library: The book was very well written and our discussion was great. Each person found something different in the book that touched them at a personal level. Very good.
Mary Leffler, Marion Public Library: One of our groups’ favorite reads.
Lisa Johnson, Brownsburg High School: Everyone loved the book!
Roberta Brooker, Indiana State Librarian: Half of the people LOVED this book and the other half thought it was boring.
Janis Small, Morgan Co. Public Library, Morgantown: Interesting discussion.
Cheryl Coons, Quest Club, Kendallville: Good discussion. Enjoyed by all. Also discussed author’s experiences and how they may have affected the story.
Phyllis Utterback, Brownsburg Public Library: We loved it!! I did highlight a lot of quotes/lines from Enzo, and the group liked that.
Marsha Jones, Troyer Memorial Library, La Fontaine: “No man good enough for their daughter” – Eve’s parents. Zebra (demon/anger). Loved Enzo and Danny – both brave, smart, lots of fortitude. Enzo began to not be sure of wanting to come back as a human. Enzo wondered about pushing the buttons when you were ready. So much wisdom and provoking thoughts in the book – all loved the book. A tear jerker.
Sondra Harrell, Wabash: Don’t let the topic – car racing – deter you from reading this book. Those who thought they would not like the book loved it. This was a popular book for our book club. Men & women enjoyed it.
Ann Haw, Wabash: This book was liked by everyone. It is more than just a dog story.
Ellen Keese, Lawrenceburg Public Library, North Dearborn: It was well liked by most who attended, were surprised by how well-written it was using a dog’s perspective. Not liked was the situation with the teenage girl.
Shayla Foutz, Bloomington: Really enjoyed the book, thought there were some really happy parts and some sad parts.
Anita Murphy, Dubois Co. Public Library, Dubois: We loved this book! It doesn’t matter if you are an animal lover or a racing fan. It generated a lot of discussion on life issues and how we deal with difficulties.
Pat Spiess, LaCrosse Public Library: Everyone really liked the book. We have the sequels for them to read.
At Home In Mitford by Jan Karon
Jalynn Whittymore, Scott County Public Library: Scottsburg Club discussed “At Home in Mitford” last evening. Out of 5 inkwells, it got rated four! Discussion consisted mostly of our favorite characters and favorite parts of the story. Several members are now determined to read the rest of the series.
Ruby Wilhite, Scott County: Enjoyed the personal story. Many members have read this author and some are now reading more in her series.
Marsha Jones, Troyer Memorial Library, La Fontaine: The group was led by Chris Hawkins. She focused on character traits and issues that might have made the characters reach like they did. She was very careful to set the platform for the series without disclosing upcoming plots. Good review!
Sharon Elliott-Fox, Jeffersonville: Loved the characters although some found the number of characters daunting. However, there was great interest in reading more of the series.
Ruth Gehlhausen, Jasper-Dubois Co. Public Library, Birdseye: It was a good book for us to start with. We had discussion guides ready to hand out with the book. We had a good mix of people – from a high school student (who was surprised she liked it) to a couple of senior citizens. This is a nice, easy-going book that makes you laugh in spots.
Atonement by Ian McEwan
Angela Northern, Southwestern High School, Hanover: Everyone enjoyed the book.
Gloria Marsh, Indianapolis: People liked or disliked the book for the same reasons – a lot of detailed descriptive writing and introspection. If you like a fast-paced adventure story, this isn’t it. If you like to analyze motives and figure out intricate mysteries, this is it.
Dan Pein, Cumberland Book Club: Excellent discussion took place, one of our best. Different opinions, but lively discussion.
Sallie Pease, Adams Co. Public Library, Decatur: “Coziest of cozy mysteries” & “I loved this book.”
Rebecca Kirby, Albany: Everyone liked it – wanted to know more about Lindberghs.
Bonnie Deakins, Thorntown Public Library: None of us knew much of anything about Ann and were interested to learn more about her. Result: renewed interest in “Gifts from the Sea.”
Sabrina Frederick, Fort Branch Public Library: We had a wonderful discussion. Lots of differing opinions on Lindbergh.
Jane DuMond, Avon: Everyone liked the book but lost respect for Charles Lindbergh. He was self-centered. Wondered about his upbringing which was only touched on. Wondered if he had Asperger’s. His behavior may have been somewhat typical for the times. Why did Anne stay? Why did she put up with it? Who could leave such a famous man?
Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler
Donna Browne, Muncie Public Library: Good discussion on identity, personal growth/change, types of families, and memory. People took display books of other Tyler titles.
Wendi West, Tipton Public Library: We were all pleased with this book selection and could relate somewhat with the character of Rebecca and all loved the character of Poppy.
Shannon Phipps, Switzerland Co. Public Library: Enjoyable book, most in the group identified with what the main character went through.
Lynell Wolff, Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library: Some were not able to enjoy this book – a few did not read. The character’s names were a stumbling block – unusual names. By introducing so many characters at the beginning whose relationships to the character Rebecca were also a little convoluted created confusion for the reader. Did the author do this on purpose so the reader would better understand Rebecca’s identity crisis?
Marsha Jones, Troyer Memorial Library, La Fontaine: Favorite character was “Poppy.” They felt that the author didn’t finish the novel, want to know more of her future (Rebecca). You don’t read her novels, you experience them. Discussion brought out a lot of laughs – was an entertaining book.
Anita Murphy, Jasper-Dubois Co. Public Library, Dubois: We were split half and half on this. There were those who loved it and found the characters and the situations engaging and those who felt it was too slow-moving and uninteresting. There were several who just stopped mid-first chapter and decided they didn’t like it.
Edith Helbert, Allen Co. Public Library, Hessen Cassel Branch: Most of us enjoyed the book. The questions in the back (of the trade paperbacks) were very good, and led to good discussions. Our one male reader HATED the book. We decided the genre, which we called “Women’s Drama” was unappealing to men.
Cheryl Miller, Shelby County Public Library: I chose this novel because it seemed to be something different, with a promise of some humor, and it was relatively short compared to my Bookclub’s recent and upcoming selections. A Bad Day For Sorry proved to be different, all right, and it lead to a very lively discussion as we usually enjoy. But I have to inform other facilitators that the novel is rather “rough around the edges,” which is in accordance with its plot. Making that point with your group ahead of time should prepare them when they come across the offensive dialog. For those in my group who gave the book a chance and those who gladly read it (Some people will read anything!), I believe my research into the author’s reasons for writing this book helped the focus of our discussion remain positive. (Handout that I used is attached.) A Bad Day For Sorry was Sophie Littlefield’s first publication success, after she’d attempted to get nine other manuscripts published. Her perseverance finally paid off in 2009. She’s now got a total of five in her Stella Hardesty series and, in 2014, her 11th book will come out. Obviously, she’s doing something right! Some readers (including me, I must confess) wouldn’t say the rough-stuff or vigilante plots are their favorites. Some may find it difficult to believe that a woman could even do what Stella does. But for your readers who can appreciate the gifts of an entertaining contemporary writer, choose this book. Sophie Littlefield knows how to hook readers and keep them engaged and smiling with writing tools like slapstick, double entendre, and irony. The 12 who gathered at my invitation said they couldn’t wait to finish reading it once they started and, after more than an hour, I had trouble getting them to stop talking about this book so I could introduce the next one we’re going to read.
Chris Rettig, Lake Co. Public Library: Books should come with discussion questions and author information. [NC: We recommend two websites for these resources – litlovers.com & readinggroupguides.com.]
Edith Helbert, Allen Co. Public Library: One person did not finish because she was turned off by the strong language. The book was a fast, light read. Many readers enjoyed it, especially appreciating Stella’s spunk and Crissie’s development from battered victim to bad-ass sidekick. All in all, a quick, easy ready – but watch out for the cussing.
The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
Wendi West, Tipton Public Library: We like the story, but felt that Kingsolver did not allow us to really get to know the characters.
Angela Scott, Ligonier Public Library: This book was enjoyable for everyone. In fact, several people were looking for the second book in this series. You know it’s good when you have repeat readers.
Phyllis A. Hawkins, Four Seasons Retirement: I enjoyed the book, but expected the “baby” would go with the couple.
Lynell Wolff, Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library, Granger: Rated about a 3 on Goodreads. Well-written book, but too many plot points to have the book feel cohesive!
Nancy Wellons, Kouts Library: It was almost unanimous (10 “loves,” 2 “likes,” 1 “dislike” – she only likes nonfiction). We had several people who read the book but did not attend the discussion. They also loved it.
Dan Von Pein, Cumberland Book Club, Indianapolis: Most loved the book. Discussion led to issues of agingand memory loss along with other issues like when is complete honesty not the best policy. Good discussion.
Cheryl Miller, Shelby Co. Public Library: I chose this book because of the title, which was also used for a title of a local artist’s collection of poems, second because it is deemed “classic literature.” I also thought it might be rewarding to learn more about mental illness and for us to talk about our experiences in the context of the book. However, it turned out to be far from “rewarding.” For me personally, having to read this book and develop the questions was a bummer. It affected my mood over several weeks. (I agreed to schedule another discussion of it earlier in the month, as well, at a different location. But no one showed up. Yet I had mindfully prepared.) I would say that, unless you have a group of very serious-minded women who express ahead of time they would want to read this book, you should skip it. Our discussion was somber; this book club is usually lively. Today they all were saddened.
Whitney Hall, West Washington Jr./Sr. High School, Campbellsburg: Students overall enjoyed.
Lydia Brasher, Indianapolis: We did enjoy – there was a great discussion around food memories in our own families.
Anita Murphy, Jasper-Dubois Co. Public Library, Dubois: We loved the book! The author had a very engaging style. It also inspired us to bring in sushi and other Japanese foods to try. Being from a very small rural town it helped us get a glimpse of what it is like to feel out of place.
The Best of Poe by Edgar Allen Poe:
Melissa Hunt, Mishawaka Penn-Harris Public Library: We did the poetry of Poe for April (National Poetry Month). It went very nicely with our high school library’s celebration of Rock ‘n’ Read Week – a week focusing on music and books.
Connie Scharre, Our Lady of Providence Jr/Sr High School: Kids shared books and loved the edition.
Big City Eyes by Delia Ephron:
Cynthia Webb, Paoli Public Library: Mixed opinion, but especially divided for and against. All enjoyed author’s humor.
Nancy Duncan, Scottsburg: Enjoyed by all.
Susan Moser, Morgan County Public Library, Waverly: Lily was just stupid. Most characters were not believable. “Funny” parts of the book were not amusing. End of book was not true to the characters. All in all . . . a disappointed read.
Darcy Davidson, Eckhart Public Library: This is a book that was adapted to a film many people have seen. This made for a great discussion on what film adaptation adds to/subtracts from a novel.
Edith Helbert, Allen Co. Public Library, Hessen Cassel Branch: Our group agreed that, while this is a short book, it is one that gave us a lot to think about. It made us think a lot about our relationships with our own parents & children; especially two of us who lost our own fathers to cancer within the last two years. We would not recommend this book to anyone who lost a parent very recently, or who has a very ill parent – it brought up lots of issues for us.
Melissa Rinehart, Sullivan Co. Public Library: The tales were a little too tall for us.
Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani:
Starr DeJesus, Mitchell Community Public Library: The ladies in the group enjoyed the novel. Several opted to read the sequels.
Cynthia Webb, Paoli Public Library: This book was a slow read according to members. The second half was better than the first half. Appropriate account of people in a small town. Many thanks!
Kay Koppel, Osgood Public Library: We all appreciated quirky characters, but the book did not provoke any serious discussion other than the fact that all towns have their own quirky characters.
Shannon Phipps, Switzerland Co. Public Library: Enjoyable read with believable characters.
Kathy Hyman, Westminster Village, West Lafayette: Everybody loved it. Wish we could get the 2 sequels.
Jennifer McKinley, Morgan Co. Public Library: Big Stone Gap was well received & we enjoyed discussing the nuances of small-town life.
The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant:
Mary Dulgosz, Mishawaka-Penn Harris Public Library: The book lends itself to easy discussion. Art plates were also passed around to enhance the conversation. Very popular with participants who felt the book was still timely.
Karen Boots, Tippecanoe County Public Library: Great discussion! Most people loved the end of the story. People who had visited Firenza loved the details of the city. Exploration of religious excess and conservative and liberal swings in society were comment-provoking. We gave it a B+.
Laura Jones, Argos Public Library: Good discussion – not much structure this time around, but interesting discussion about characters and plot.
Jean Ehrman, Fort Wayne: Half of our group loved the book, the others not so much. We loved watching Alessandra grow and mature, particularly given the social & religious climate of the times – 15th century Italy. Our major discussion regarded the identity of Alessandra’s painter. Some blogs and message boards said that the painter was Michelangelo, but most of our group agreed that the painter was a one-time student of Michelangelo but was a fictional character, like Alessandra.
Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen:
Cheryl Miller, Shelby County Public Library: This book stimulated a very emotionally stirring round of conversation. We learned a lot about the nature of domestic abuse and about each other.
Mary Leffler, Marion Public Library: Great discussion! Almost everyone knew someone affected by domestic violence.
Black Elk Speaks by John G. Neihardt
Lynell Wolff, Mishawaka-Penn-Harrivs Public Library: A little hard to read. Not as detailed as Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee but still a very good account of life for Native Americans during the invasion of the white man. Thankfully there were a couple of lighter – even humorous – stories shared. Several expressed shame and embarrassment at what our ancestors did to the Native Americans.
Cyndi Currie, Owen Co. Public Library: Most people commented on how much the book differed from the movie. The group was split on how much sympathy is generated for the androids vs. the survivors of the human race. Amazon has a great review on this book about the differences between the movie director’s view on the story material vs. Philip K. Dick’s – basically, that they were diametrically opposed.
Cheryl Miller, Shelbyville-Shelby County Public Library: I really did not expect to get such a great turnout for the discussion of this book….we had a deep conversation about the changes in society, the differences in cultures, and how people deal with each other. We also talked about this author’s style of writing a memoir from the perspective of youth yet with the wisdom of an educated mind, and compared his style to Haven Kimmel, who has a knack with writing in the mind’s eye of her youth.
Becky Gremore, Covington Public Library: Enjoyed this book.
Marsha Jones, Troyer Memorial Library, La Fontaine: Liked the book, a light read. Liked the characters. A good cozy mystery. Contained a lot of humor besides suspense.
Cynthia Webb, Paoli Public Library: Funny – enjoyed it – felt it was fairly typical for minister’s life.
Norma Newcomer, Anderson: We enjoyed the book very much and had a great discussion. We all were sad the way it ended, but agreed that was the only way it could have concluded.
Marsha Jones, Troyer Memorial Library, La Fontaine: Mrs. Blessing was closest to her brother, Sunny, and he was gay – her dad would whip him, maybe to make him more manly. The doctor liked her in earlier years. Biggest secrets in the book: gay brother, Jewish mother, hiding the baby. Skip realized finally that he could make a new, better life and overcome his past. He was an underdog who would rise up.
Janis Small, Morgan Co. Public Library, Morgantown: Our group loved this author and this book. We are older and could identify with Lydia Blessing. Our parents reflected her values.
Becky Gremore, Covington Public Library: They really liked this book. Found it very inspirational. Would love to have access to more Christian Fiction Reading.
Judy Stolz, Scott Co. Public Library: Enjoyable.
Pam Sailor, Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library: Participants loved this book, and discussed how their lives had similar situations – dreams that were realized differently than expected & friendships lost & found years later.
Wendy Flowers, Dunkirk Public Library: Everone had good and bad comments about the book. The one comment that everyone had, was the author got “preachy” toward the middle, but other than that everyone liked the book.
Bonnie Deakins & Fern Miner, Thorntown Public Library: Hard to keep the characters straight. Nobody felt the “God influence” was overbearing. A bit too much character stereotyping. Liked the tenacity of the reporter Brenna. We liked it!
Blue Water by A. Manette Ansay:
Cheryl Miller, Shelbyville-Shelby County Public Library: Wonderful discussion! Group liked this book 100 times better than “White Teeth”, which we discussed last month.
Courtney Block, Charlestown Clark County Public Library: Many people said this was their favorite book so far. They loved how the author portrayed real characters with realistic responses.
Ann Haw, Franklin: This book is filled with deep themes which lead to a good discussion.
Ruth Gehlhausen, Jasper-Dubois Co. Public Library, Birdseye: The discussion questions in the book were helpful. Lots of issues for discussion. Each member enjoyed the book!
The Body in the Transept by Jeane M. Dams:
Kathy Hyman, Westminster Village, West Lafayette: Clash of cultures, questions of self worth, teenage rebellion (in two cultures). How role of women has changed in American society in past 50 years – drug addiction, evolution. Quite a bit of conversation about Lu Lang and the retirement home: senile dementia.
Lynell Wolff, Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library: The story was sad but the story about the mother/daughter relationship was more enjoyable than the story about the mother growing up in China. Some enjoyed the details – the ending was happy. Difficult to read for those who are experiencing similar events in their own lives.
Shannon Phipps, Switzerland Co. Public Library: Everyone loved this book. We had an interesting discussion about mother/daughter relationships and things we wish we knew about the past.
The Book Club by Mary Alice Monroe:
Donna Fields, Peru Public Library: Everyone liked this book. We thought it was perfect for our first book club reading.
Maria Axtman, Brownsburg: This book was not our favorite book that we have read. It was difficult to get attached to the story.
Mindy Patterson, Kendallville Public Library: Wonderful read!
Teresa Dustman, Wells Co. Public Library: Great discussion questions in the back of the book!
Gloria Marsh, Indianapolis: Characters were shallow, described ploddingly. Crises made it sort of interesting. We preferred “Angry Housewives Eating Bonbons” – same idea but characters were defined clearly and imaginatively. Some group members could relate to various characters. Mostly we weren’t impressed – “it didn’t stick,” “shallow,” “ungrammatical,” “characters not worth keeping track of.”
Yvonne Welty, Lebanon Public Library: They liked the ending of this book because it didn’t tie up every plot line neatly. It was more realistic how the author chose to end it.
Teresa Heidenreich, Washington Carnegie Public Library: Old friends can be the best of friends.
Shannon Phipps, Switzerland Co. Public Library: We had read “Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons” a few months earlier and enjoyed comparing the books as both were about a group of women who became friends because of a book group.
The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton:
Lynell Wolff, Mishawaka Penn-Harris Public Library: The story was depressing but all could appreciate the complexity of the book’s characters. Another well written book but not an easy read for some and not uplifting.
Gloria Marsh, Indianapolis: Book had lots of online reviews, pro and con. Very lively discussion, lots of analysis of all characters, motives, interactions. Was Ruth “retarded,” learning disabled? What will her future be? Is there a bad guy/good guy? Why didn’t Sid or Matt intervene earlier?
Cyndi Currie, Owen Co. Public Library: Everyone had different reactions while reading The Book of Ruth. One person had no sympathy for any of the characters, while most felt something for Ruth but not her family. This is a good book to push the boundaries of each reader’s ability to empathize. We each tried to find something positive about May and Ruby as an exercise in seeing from another point-of-view. Excellent book!
Margo English, Owensville Carnegie Public Library: Loved this book. Thought Jane Hamilton gave a wonderful voice to Ruth.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak:
Wendi West, Tipton Public Library: 2 people loved the book. 1 couldn’t “get into the story” and didn’t read it. 1 didn’t like it. The rest enjoyed the story.
Diana Kooy, Wheatfield Public Library: The Holocaust is a subject that generates lots of discussion….. This book generated one of our better discussions.
Cheryl Miller, Shelbyville-Shelby County Public Library: Although book was lengthy (500+ pages), conversation was lively. Some commented that the plot was depressing and format was arduous, but everyone at the discussion said they were glad they read it and will recommend it to others. Almost all said it was not the type of book they would have chosen to read on their own.
Lynell Wolff, Mishawaka Penn-Harris Public Library: This book was well written and most participants liked it. Some didn’t enjoy hearing the story from a teen’s perspective.
Shannon Phipps, Switzerland County Public Library: Everyone liked the book. It was a very serious book, but the participants enjoyed it.
Tonya Schaffter, Danville Community High School: Great read for high school book club!
Dave Miller, Bartholomew Co. Public Library, Hope: Our group loved this book. Liesel is a great character. It was a well-received book by everyone.
Rebecca Kirby, Albany Community Library: A few had a hard time getting “into” the book, but others liked the different style and learning more about the time period.
Charlene McDevitt, Peabody Public Library: Of 7 ratings from our members, there were six 5’s and one 4 (on a scale of 1-5). Discussed the characters, symbolism and the various points of irony. Next month is Sarah’s Key for another perspective on the war in Europe in the ’40s. Impressive work for a young author. How the narrator, Death, moved the plot and all of the delicious play with language was unexpected from a young author. (“Timely & Timeless Book Club”)
Sondra Harrell, Wabash: Although several others read the book, we had a small group for discussion. Most members really enjoyed the book. Although the material was difficult to read about, we were intrigued by the author’s writing ability & his style. The characters were memorable and were not always what we thought they were. Highly recommended.
Sandy Nunley, Jasper-Dubois Co. Public Library: Not very well liked. Our first non-fiction selection with our book club. Several “missed” the discussion so unsure if they read the entire book.
Melissa Hunt, Morrisson Reeves Library, Richmond: Didn’t care for the book; it was negative & critical; a few well-worded phrases but overall not so good.
Lynell Wolff, Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library, Granger: A very well written book. Each character seemed to represent a portion of society – those who were innocent, those who were in denial, the ones seeking recognition, the victims. Good discusssion!
Janis Small, Morgan Co. Public Library, Morgantown: Great discussion even though we had few people.
Sharon Fox, Jeffersonville: Have included the discussion guide we sued. This is a hard book (emotionally) for everyone but especially those who were alive during WWII. Eventually provoked a discussion on what we need to be aware of in our time & what we can/should do about those issues. Global climate change was a primary topic.
Pam Sailor, Mishawaka Penn Harris Public Library: Great discussion! Readers were amazed at the persistence and resourcefulness of the author, and saddened by the extreme poverty that he endured.
Janis Small, Morgan Co. Public Library, Morgantown: Great discussion!
Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Dandicat:
Wendi West, Tipton Public Library: This was an excellent story! We have a member who has been to Haiti and said the descriptions of the book really took him back to that trip.
Emily Crickmore, Hamilton North Public Library: It’s a difficult book to get through, as there is a lot of untranslated Spanish/slang Dominican. Be sure to keep a Spanish dictionary nearby! None of us particularly liked the book and we were all rather surprised that it won a Pulitzer.
Edith Helbert, Allen Co. Public Library, Hessen Cassel Branch: This book was hard for our group. Hard to relate to and hard to follow! The 3 of us who finished were glad we did, because we learned a lot and came to care about the characters. Those who didn’t finish cited too many convoluted footnotes, too much jumping around structurally (multiple narrators) and too much Spanish. Oh, and too much cussing. The story was good, but we don’t like to work that hard for a good story!
Drew Shermeta, Muncie Public Library: 2/3 of the group loved it – one of the best things we’ve read. 1/3 of the group struggled to get past the way the story was presented – be they for crude language, blending of English & Spanish, or keeping up with the footnotes.
“C” is for Corpse:
(This title is no longer available from Novel Conversations)
Cheryl Miller, Shelbyville-Shelby County Public Library: Not everyone liked this one. General consensus seemed to be “it was all right, but not moving or gripping”. They were glad they read it, as most weren’t inclined to read mysteries and it was a short, easy read. Several stressed how unlikely the ending was.
Melissa Hunt, Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library: Murder mysteries seem to be great for sparking discussions between teens. Rarely is a teen neutral about a murder mystery. Either he or she loved it or hated it, and both opinions are great for vigorous discussions.
Teresa Heidenreich, Washington Carnegie Public Library: Everyone liked the descriptions of the various sites and scenes.
Louise Wolpert, Adams Public Library, Decatur: Found him to be pretty witty. One of the patrons owned Plum Sauce: A P.G. Wodehouse Companion by Richard Usborne. This book has many insights to the Jeeves/Wooster series.
Cheryl Miller, Shelby Co. Public Library: We needed “something light” to follow a couple of very deep reading experiences (The Storyteller and Into the Wild). Carry On, Jeeves fit the bill nicely! With it being English humour, we still managed to learn a few things individually and from each other. One participant said she had to force herself to keep reading after the first couple of chapters, because she doesn’t like to waste her time on frivolous entertainment. But then, she said she was glad she continued on because the book’s light-heartedness surprisingly lifted her spirits and she looked forward to the discussion. Most others said they loved the book, a couple saying they couldn’t help laughing out loud while reading it. One said her husband even read it; he’d never wanted to read any of the past Bookclub selections. For our discussion, we took turns sharing favorite parts and characters. It’s full of crazy antics of a spoiled rich kid (Bertie Wooster) of drinking age who’s dependent on an aunt for financial support and a valet (Jeeves) to get him and more than one friend out of many sticky situations. We also talked about the historical time period and differences in the English language and slang compared to that of the U.S. Two weeks after our book discussion, we will meet at the public library to watch two episodes of the “Jeeves & Wooster” TV series, starring Hugh Laurie, that are based the short stories of P.G. Wodehouse. Then we’ll turn our attention again to something a bit more serious!
The Catcher In the Rye by J.D. Salinger:
Andrea Basinger, Garrett Public Library: Good discussion, mixed reviews.
Roberta Brooker, Indiana State Library: Great discussion. Leader gave multiple-choice quiz, based on novel. Most had not read the novel prior, even though they were familiar with the author and novel. Some had read it 40 years earlier – and enjoyed revisiting it again.
Cassandra Thompson, Bloomfield Eastern Greene Co. Public Library: Many people found this very boring – hard to get through.
Teresa Dustman, Wells Co. Public Library: Not everyone’s favorite read, but it engendered great discussion on adolescence, angst, purpose, censorship, and many other topics.
Ellen Keese, Lawrenceburg Public Library: Members found the book confusing with too many characters, but it made for a good discussion anyway.
Jackie Richards, Crestwood Village East: 4 really liked the story and the way it ended. 5 thought it was OK – but toom much jumping around. One thought the title misleading.
Lynell Wolff, Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library: Author researched the topic. Many believed the attitudes of the times regarding adoption, homosexuality, women’s roles were well represented. An enjoyable reading experience.
Edith Helbert, Allen Co. Public Library, Hessen Cassel Branch: Tips from our group: 1) If you have a chance, read The Orphan Train first, so you’ll know the history of that time period. 2) Louise Brooks was a real person! Several books of her photos added a lot to our discussion, especially the one by Peter Cowrie called Lulu Forever. 3) We had great discussions about social change, adoptive vs. birth parents, and morality.
The Chatham School Affair by Thomas H. Cook:
Emily Crickmore, Hamilton North Public Library: This title is haunting and infuriating. Everyone loved the beauty of Cook’s writing, but one participant said she wanted to throw the book across the room after she finished.
Nancy Wellons, Kouts Library: Pretty good.
Cynthia Webb, Paoli Public Library: Thought the last 3 chapters were the best. Too wordy – repetitive wording.
The Children of Men by P.D. James
Shannon Phipps, Switzerland Co. Public Library: This book was either intensely liked or disliked by Book Group members. There was no ambivalence. Those who disliked it thought it was too dark and showed no hope for the future while those who liked it considered it a cautionary tale.
Gloria Marsh, Indianapolis: Author is “wordy,” too slow-moving. We’d like to know if there is a sequel? [Apparently not although there is a 2006 film version.]
Chocolat by Joanne Harris:
Lynell Wolff, Mishawaka-Penn Harris Public Library: We had an awesome discussion! This was a very good book!
Emily Crickmore, Hamilton North Public Library: Unfortunately, I was the only one who read the book. The others relied more on the movie, which I gather is quite different from the book. I also had a few no-shows that was hugely disappointing. I, however, loved the book.
Mindy Patterson, Kendallville Public Library: Lovely read!
Mary Ann Dubash, Elkhart: Great discussion – serve chocolate!
Debbie Itani, Zionsville Meadows: Chocolat is a very good book, but hard to follow for some of my participants. The style of the author of narration in first person by the two main characters was a little difficult to notice in the beginning of the story.
The subject was a sensitive one and provided for excellent discussion based on the values, morals and religious beliefs of the participants. The themes of contrast, dichotomies, and finding the unexpected were evident in this book. The author’s description of characters and their traits, as well as of the environment in which they go about their lives transports the reader to this small and “colorful” town. Subjects like parenting, control, unresolved issues, hypocrisy, spirituality, fear, etc. were also good for discussion.
We were all able to recognize the “power of the wind,” as described in this book. Everyone was able to identify what kind of “wind” has brought them to this stage in their lives. This is a great book for recognizing the good where least expected and to reject the evil wherever found. I will show the movie to follow this book club, and serve home made chocolates.
David Allen, Johnson Co. Public Library, White River Branch: They found it charming but wished they’d brought some chocolate to eat!
Jackie Richards, Crestwood Village East, Indianapolis: 3 of us really enjoyed the book. Others didn’t like the foreign names & phrases, didn’t like 2 different stories atthe same time. One liked the movie better. One didn’t finish. One hated everything about the book.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke:
Shannon Phipps, Switzerland County Public Library: Several members shared cookies made from recipes in the book.
Deborah Teegardin, Quest Club, Kendallville: We had 2 of the cookie recipes for dessert with ice cream for our meeting.
The Christmas Box by Richard Paul Evans:
Robin Reef, Kokomo-Howard Co. Public Library: This was a very familiar story but not many had actually read the book. We had many new insights.
Royetta Ingle, Mooresville Public Library: Great book, many funny moments. A lady in our group attends [the author’s church and said some of the members “could be” the characters.
Robin Reef, Kokomo-Howard Co. Public Library: It was a very easy read. Good for the holiday season. Many of the ladies could relate to the small town church.
Shannon Phipps, Switzerland Co. Public Library: Even though this is a small book, there was plenty to discuss – small town life, religion. Enjoyable book that made everyone laugh out loud.
Sabrina Frederick, Fort Branch Public Library: We had mixed reviews o who liked or didn’t like. Those who didn’t like seemed unwilling to attend the discussion, even though I would say that a differing opinion would add to the discussion. Tip: Group seemed to like quotes from book. Everyone liked my question of: “If there was someone you would smack upside the head, who would it be and why?” Generated a great discussion.
Rita Gail Russell, Spencer County Public Library: Liked book but was surprised at the ending.
Cheryl Miller, Shelby County Public Library: I can no longer say “Everyone likes Baldacci!” because I heard three of my “regulars” say they didn’t like the book. (One of them came to the discussion anyway, even though he didn’t finish reading it.) The rest who did finish reading it and did come for the discussion thoroughly seemed to enjoy it. The group shared stories of their own train experiences, Baldacci’s incredible gift for storytelling, and the surprise ending. All pretty much agreed it was a tad far-fetched, but they loved it anyway, would recommend it to others, and now yearn to take a trip by rail ASAP!
Anni Bruns, Eckhart Public Library (Auburn): An adult fairy tale. It was a fun read for the holidays.
Sharon Elliott-Fox, Jeffersonville: While this book elicited numerous stories of train rides (U.S. and Europe), there was not much discussion of the book itself. “A fun read” but not much “substance.”
Anita Murphy, Jasper-Dubois Co. Public Library, Dubois: Most enjoyed reading a light “fluff” book with a surprising ending. There were others who felt let down since it was not Baldacci’s usual style.
Bonnie Deakins, Thorntown Public Library: A fluff book! We shared stories of our own weddings.
Anita Murphy, Jasper-Dubois Public Library, Dubois: Most of the group really enjoyed reading this even though it is “fluff” for the most part.
Kay Koppel, Osgood Public Library: We were fortunate to have the author attending our meeting. Delightful. We enjoyed the book and are rooting for the musical that Ball State students wrote and produced inspired by the book.
Lisa Mercurio, Mishawaka Penn Harris Public Library: Very thought provoking! Sad, but realistic view of circus life, and family relationships. Short story format hard to follow for some readers.
Helen Cawley, Mishawaka Penn Harris Public Library: We liked the novel. Good discussion.
Cleopatra – A Life by Stacy Schiff:
Lynell Wolff, Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library: Was well written – very lively discussion. Reading was slow going at first, but those who persevered were rewarded. We all learned so much about history – i.e., Rome and Egypt.
Cynthia Schmid-Perry, Ohio County Public Library: Overall, enjoyable and fascinating facts, presented almost conversational manner. Lead to discussions on global politics, women in leadership roles, education (how we remember history, what we learned and forgot), relationships, Jewish history, prose; all rousing and emphatic!
Read Nancy’s review
The Cloister Walk by Kathleen No
Casey O’Leary, Mooresville Public Library: Interesting discussion, divided sharply along religious beliefs. Catholic members really enjoyed the book.
Sandy Nunley, Jasper-Dubois Co. Public Library: Difficult to follow at times. Vocabulary requires a glossary from this book. Humorous – quirky.
A Cold Red Sunrise by Stuart Kaminsk
Casey O’Leary, Mooresville Public Library: Most liked the book. Several were interested in the series.
Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns:
Wendi West, Tipton Public Library: We all enjoyed the story. Olive Ann Burns did a wonderful job with the dialogue!
Angela Scott, Ligonier Public Library: This was a favorite of the group, with its coming of age story.
Jan Cockrell, Westminster Village: Lots of good discussions came out of this book.
Donna Browne, Muncie Public Library: A very popular book! People loved the author’s voice, the flamboyant characters, and the richly drawn story. Excellent book club choice.
Melissa Robertson, Sullivan Co. Public Library: A pleasant but relatively unremarkable story.
Sondra Harrell, Wabash: This book was favorably received. We have one gentleman in our group and he enjoyed reading a novel centered on men.
Ruth Gehlhausen, Jasper-Dubois Co. Contractual Public Library, Ferdinand: No comment – but good discussion book.
Traci Stewart, Walkerton-Lincoln Twp. Public Library: Our group enjoyed the book a lot. We loved the growth in the main character.
Karen Palmer, Mishawaka Penn Harris Public Library: A majority did not care for this book – they felt it was too unbelievable and “absurd.”
Cynthia Currie, Owen County Public Library: Everyone seemed to enjoy the book very much. The discussion centered around the character of McBride’s mother, with some people who liked her and others who felt she was not a sympathetic character.
Kathy Allen, Masonic Home Reading Group, Franklin: We had a great discussion on an array of topics & issues ranging from motherhood to immigration, racism to religion, opportunities to revolution. It was very rich!
Leslie Weaver, Brownsburg: The women all rated the book 8-9.5 on a scale of 1-10.
Edith Helbert, Allen County Public Library, Hessen Cassel Branch: Rather than read the entire book, we selected some stories to discuss. Favorite stories were: “How I Edited an Agricultural Paper,” “Political Economy,” and “The Diary of Adam and Eve.” We had a nice discussion. Most people enjoyed reading the stories, although one is a reluctant short story reader. Many in the group struggled with the tiny print in this edition and one found the stories in an alternate collection. We thought it was interesting to think about how different everything was in America at the time the stories were written. Everyone’s world was much smaller back then – most people had never traveled away from their home county. One reader commented that we’re not used to the leisurely writing style. This book wasn’t an exciting page-turner, but it was interesting. One person stated that she wished she had a better grasp of American History so she would have been able to put the stories into better context.
Mindy Patterson, Kendallville Public Library: We had quite the discussion with this title. The club enjoyed the read and the many facets of the varying characters. An extraordinary take on a much loved fairytale.
Emily Crickmore, Hamilton North Public Library: Two of us failed to finish (not enough action) and the third really enjoyed the book.
Gloria Marsh, Indianapolis: Interesting book.
Anita Murphy, Jasper-Dubois Co. Public Library, Dubois: This is not at all what one might expect from a book based on a fairy tale. We found it intriguing and a great surprise ending! Highly recommend.
Gloria Marsh, Indianapolis: Not many “anti” reviews are available. Interesting discussion about dangers of established religion’s effect on human freedom. Humor and use of language – grand! There’s a movie about this? We’ll check it out.
Jean Walker, Indianapolis (Irvington): 4 of 6 read whole book. Not like movie. Appreciated book more after the discussion.
LucyAnne Kuhn, Evansville-Vanderburgh Public Library, McCollough Branch: Book was not well liked. Discussion was primarily about Mark Twain – why is he so well-regarded when most of his books (outside of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn) aren’t read/liked/popular? What makes a classic?
Anita Murphy, Dubois Co. Public Library, Dubois: Some loved it and some hated it.
Consequences by Aleatha Romig
Traci Stewart, Walkerton-Lincoln Twp. Public Library: Some members had to quit reading – too sexually violent. A couple of ladies loved the story & asked for the second book.
Cyndi Currie, Owen Co. Public Library: We had an animated discussion about the different religious groups in Pakistan. We enjoyed the author’s portrayal of the young girl growing up and her diverse family.
Pam Sailor, Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library: Great choice for discussion! Themes of race, friendship, isolation, and forgiveness were explored & discussed. Members appreciated the author’s descriptive talents of character development and Southern setting.
Lynell Wolff, Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library: Franklin’s book is very well written – careful detail pulls the reader into the story. An excellent depiction of life in a Mississippi town – speaks of the difficulties in race relations. One attendee said she couldn’t put the book down but wanted to. Very good.
Eileen Mailath, Indianapolis: We loved this book, though it was also very dark and an unpleasant look at human nature. We covered the book questions much more thoroughly than usual. Recommend this book for lots of discussion groups.
Julie Hart, West Central Middle/Sr. High School, Francesville: We loved the book! It was a dark, gritty, sometimes hard-to-read novel, but we had a great discussion. Talked a lot about the meaning of the title.
Toni Sekula, Speedway Public Library: Reaction was mixed. Some loved, some didn’t. We agreed that the author created a very real sense of place, and there was a lot to discuss about the characters’ choices and the way their relationships change.
Shannon Phipps, Switzerland Co. Public Library: Everyone liked this book because it was well-written with interesting characters and setting. We talked a lot about how characters would have turned out under different circumstances.
Angela Scott, Ligonier Public Library: This was a long book and not one to procrastinate on. Several were unable to finish. Everyone was glad that they read it, though. Several members said this would be one that they wouldn’t recommend to everyone because it is deep and long and full of lots of unhappiness. They did enjoy how all things connect in the main character’s story and how he had to work to find himself.
Wendi West, Tipton Public Library: This was a very interesting book. Two of us said we would recommend the title to others – and would like to read it again sometime in the future.
Cheryl Miller, Shelby Co. Public Library: Nasty winter weather stopped about half of the usual number of participants from attending the discussion, but it was a good one. Cutting for Stone is a lengthy book, going into a lot of explicit detail where medical procedure and deliberative and emotional thought are concerned. Many words to look up for readers who like total comprehension. My readers were glad I choose this book for them to read over a 2-month period. There was so much to enjoy and learn from it. It was hard to put down. For the audio version, the narrator performed with a perfect array of voices and his mastery of dialects made the story come alive. Our discussion included many aspects and lessons learned from Verghese’s incredible work:
- History of Ethiopia and its civil/political struggles (a map in the book adds great clarity).
- African customs, classes, religions, and mission work.
- Coping with hardship and betrayals.
- Conjoined and identical twins.
- Emotional lives of doctors, and how it is for foreign doctors working abroad vs. in the U.S.
- Fly-on-the-wall peek into the surgical world and how illness is treated differently in Ethiopia than it is in our country.
- Dynamic characters, coming of age, romance, exile, and parental estrangement.
If you don’t get to choose this book for your group, I highly recommend you immerse yourself in it!
Nancy Wellons, Porter Co. Public Library System, Kouts: Most of us thought it was very good. One person thought the first 200 pages were tedious and did not finish the book. Comments: many thought it was long; it took 100 pages to get going but, once the plot thickened, it was an interesting, tear-jerking roller coaster. Great discussion: the one person who hated it is now going to give it another chance.
Shannon Phipps, Switzerland Co. Public Library: Enjoyed learning about Ethiopia and historical information about medicine. Everyone enjoyed this book. There was much discussion about attitudes and training of those in the medical profession, then vs. now.
Barbara Borg-Jenkins, Porter Co. Public Library, South Haven: The detail about the country and the people made for great conversation. One of our successful books.
Dance on the Water by Laura Lynn Jeffers
Debbie Itani, Zionsville Meadows: Tip – good to research the history of Native Americans in northern Indiana. Participants enjoyed the accuracy of this book regarding geography and description of the island and its surroundings. Many of the participants expressed when asked that they would have liked to have a relative lead them on the path of re-connecting with their family history, and, like Bette, they would not have minded the physical/emotional work involved.
We liked the descriptive nature of this book and the way that the characters all represent something. From tolerance and acceptance to greed, innocence, responsibility and loyalty, you find it all in the confines of a small island and in all its visitors. Water also plays a role in allowing the characters to express all their different personalities while navigating the journey with her.
This book is about the great effort that it is sometimes being part of something bigger and the rewarding fulfillment after reaching the “other side.”
Kathy Allen, Masonic Home Reading Group, Franklin: Book received mixed reviews from the group for all the right reasons! Best input came from each of two ladies who had spent time on the island in Lake PapaKuchie. They added great interest to the story.
Gloria Marsh, Indianapolis: As usual, facilitator read two reviews, one positive and one negative – this gives a basis to start the discussion. We liked the British witticisms and clever conversations, had problems keeping names sorted out in the genealogies. the conflict about Richard’s guilt/innocence continues, and our group can only conclude that history is written by the victors. (Based on Tey, we agreed he was innocent – but there are other books!) “Tonypandy,” a wonderful new word that we all understood.
Cynthia Webb, Paoli Public Library: Enjoyable, light read. We laughed a lot!
Kathy Allen, Masonic Home Reading Group, Franklin: We all enjoyed reading an “entertaining” book. Because our ladies are such generous readers, we found many points to discuss: cultural history of Scottish clans; role of women during Colonial times; indentured “servants”; “bonded women” – modern day slavery of women.
Cynthia Webb, Paoli Public Library: OK – not as enjoyable – too much detail.
Paula Starek, Cross & Crown Lutheran Church: The book is an easy read. some hard to “believe” things happen, but we were able to have good discussion about the Supreme Court, politics, power and religion.
Dear Mrs. Lindbergh by Kathleen Hughes:
Kay Garbaciak, Village At Arborwood retirement community, Granger: Great book!
Sallie Pease, Waterloo Grant Twp. Public Library: Hard book to follow.
Sondra Harrell, Wabash: Some of our members loved this book & others struggled to read it. The book did generate a good discussion about the characters and why the parents acted as they did when going off on their trip.
Dear Theo by Irving Stone:
Sandi Kuehl, North Judson-Wayne Township Library: Sparked discussion on art appreciation in general. One of the members of the group, a former teacher/architect student, gave a talk about the artists and salons of the time period.
Louise Wolpert, Adams Co. Public Library, Decatur: They have decided they do not like cozy mysteries, “too tame.”
Phyllis A. Hawkins, Four Seasons Retirement Community, Columbus: Group enjoyed, light & fun. Theodora was a favorite. Earl Gray was a special character. Would recommend the book to others. One person checked out several of Laura Childs’ books from the library.
The Diary of Mattie Spencer by Sandra Dallas:
Shirley Mooney, Marion Public Library: Love it!
Cindy Bergquist, Johnson Co. Public Library: This book is great for discussion. There are lots of issues to talk over. Everyone liked this title very much.
Anni Bruns, Eckhart Public Library, Auburn: Great discussion on the treatment of women, difficulty of frontier life and appreciation of things like running water and inside plumbing.
Sallie Peace, Waterloo-Grant Twp. Public Library: Good book.
Vicki Windmiller, Roachdale-Franklin Twp. Public Library: Questions were good. All liked the book. We thought it was realistic historical fiction.
Debbie Itani, Zionsville Meadows: All participants enjoyed reading this book. It is very well written, and the description and detail are extraordinary. This book takes you on a tour of all senses. Readers can relate to all sorts of emotions from the characters. My residents remembered the time of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Japanese Camps and could not even imagine that U.S. & British citizens were treated in such an atrocious way.
This book also taught lessons of love, stability, and the peace of a happy life, one way or another. Adaptability was also a great common denominator amongst all the characters. Everyone adapted to survive the many situations they all encountered. The power of support among women was also crucial for the survival of the main character, and for the development of a very interesting plot. Great book!
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells:
Erin Strobel, Spencer County Public Library: Everyone loved the book. Great discussion!
The Dogs of Bedlam Farm by Jon Katz:
Shannon Phipps, Switzerland County Public Library: Everyone enjoyed the book and we had a great discussion!
Donna Fields, Friendship Club, Peru: It was okay, but not a grabber.
Anita Murphy, Dubois County Public Library, Dubois: Some really liked the book and some did not like it at all. But we did have a great discussion on people and pets.
Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian
Jalynn Whittymore, Scott County Public Library: Got highly rated for good writing, but everyone felt either angry or deceived by the ending.
Nancy Wellons, Porter Co. Public Library System, Kouts: A real page turner, the end took everyone by surprise. All but one loved it.
Fern Miner, Thorntown Public Library: Strongly recommend a group reading (or have read) The Great Gatsby first. Nobody had figured out (ahead of time) the conclusion.
Lynell Wolff, Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library, Granger: Well written. A little slow getting started but picks up and is a fast read. Not everyone finished it but hope to return to it.
Lynell Wolff, Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library: Women and women’s issues are universal. We enjoyed reading & talking about the cultural differences. The importance of story, be it Scherazade of the stories of our own experiences strike a familiar note.
During the Reign of the Queen of Persia by Joan Chase
Suzanne VanReed, Vigo County Public Library: Good discussion. Enjoyed the author’s character development.
Cyndi Currie, Owen County Public Library: 2 likes on the book. Several club members were put off by the unpleasant personalities of the characters. Two were impressed by the poetic language the author used in describing the characters’ lives. The journey through the novel and plot is complex and often disturbing, so this book is not good for readers interested in light entertainment.
Dust by Joan Frances Turner:
Cynthia Webb, Paoli Public Library: The group did not care for this book. Only one read it to the end. We agreed the author appears to be quite capable of writing a really good book.
Dying for Chocolate by Diane Mott Davidson:
Sharon Elliott-Fox, Jeffersonville Twp. Public Library: Brought up discussion of spousal abuse, family secrets, communication (face to face vs. email, etc.). Overall found the book entertaining, good mystery, well written; enjoyed the author’s use of simile and especially the description of eating good chocolate!
Shondra Brown, Wakarusa Public Library: We had a mixed group in regards to liking the book . . . 3 would not recommend it to others, 4 would.
Cynthia Schmid-Perry, Ohio Co. Public Library: Some refused to read book beyond first violent scene with ex-husband. Discussions on relationships, fidelity, casual encounters followed. We talked about this being [one of the] first in series, ex-husband dies in later book (cheers). Appreciated characters integral to storyline. would not recommend series for most readers.
Janis Small, Morgan Co. Public Library, Morgantown: This was a wonderful book for discussion!
Kay Koppel, Osgood Public Library: Reaction to book seemed to differ based on age of the participant. Younger = more positive!
Lexington Book Club, Scott County: Discussion on places and advice she was given. Also how it would be out of the norm for most to be able to pursue that kind of self discovery journey.
Cheryl Miller, Shelbyville-Shelby County Public Library: Several who did not finish the book came to hear the discussion anyway. Very interesting man, and interesting topics covered in this book.
Melissa Hunt, Mishawaka Penn-Harris Public Library: Thought story of the book was okay, “could have been written better”. Would not have read book otherwise. Some are looking to read more Kaye Gibbons books. All attendees want to find out more about Ellen.
Lynell Wolff, Mishawaka Penn-Harris Public Library: The book is very well written but a little dark. We had a good discussion.
Marsha Jones, Troyer Memorial Library, La Fontaine: Author used southern 11-year-old colloquialisms. Of all the people she lived with Mama’s Mama was the worst. Her friends were the librarian, Starletta, Starletta’s parents, Mavis, Julia & Rick, other teachers, New Mama. New Mama great – let her ride the pony, let Starletta visit, had decent food & a room. At first was prejudice at Starletta’s (not eating the biscuit, or drinking after her), but all of that changed. Want to read sequel. Page 92 summed it up (her thoughts).
Billie Clements, Mishawaka-Penn-Harris PUblic Library, Granger: Interesting characters. Although story is set in 1921, the quest for change and adventure remains fresh.
Emily Crickmore, Hamilton North Public Library: This book, though short, was a difficult read. None of us enjoyed it.
Darcy Davidson, Eckhart Public Library, Auburn: This was a great discussion. A few people asked for a reading guide to accompany their reading.
Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing:
Nancy Wellons, Porter Co. Public Library System, Kouts: Only one member did not care for it, because of the violence of certain situations. As for the rest of us and patrons who checked out the book, but couldn’t attend, they loved it also. Highly recommended.
Drew Shermeta, Muncie Public Library: Led to good conversation about leadership and the nature of exploration. I recommend it above other nonfiction titles.
Enough: Why the World’s Poorest Starve In An Age of Plenty
Bill and Sharon Elliott, Fox, Scott County Public Library: This is exceptionally well-written and documented book exploring how America’s farm subsidy programs undermine agricultural development overseas, especially in Africa. The authors also offer some well-reasoned suggestions for correcting the major problems that current impede effective reduction in worldwide hunger.
Peg Demott, Lakeland Leading Edge High School, LaGrange: A little tough for high school students.
Teresa Dustman, Wells Co. Public Library: Make sure to read Plainsong first – maybe back-to-back months, then compare & contrast.
Ellen Keese, Lawrenceburg Public Library, North Dearborn Branch: Everyone who read Plainsong for our last discussion wanted to read this – the sequel. It ties in the rest of the story very well.
Ruth Gehlhausen, Jasper-Dubois Co Public Library, Birdseye: It was a good discussion. We had a unique viewpoint of the book as we are all small-town people. We felt the book depicted the small-town rural life accurately.
Helen Hudson, Athena Club at Crawfordsville High School: Our girls really appreciated Emma’s dilemma. They thought the Goose (Freud) was goofy :-). Nice discussion of what would be first things you would spend $ on!
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury:
Donna Browne, Muncie Public Library: Sci-fi not a hit with my older group, but the book’s “predictions” were eerie and made a meaningful discussion.
Erica Brown, West Lafayette Public Library: Apparently sci-fi isn’t popular, even when you could win a wine tasting.
Yvonne Welty, Lebanon Public Library: At first they didn’t like the main character. But after the discussion they changed their minds. I can’t count how many times that our attendees change their opinions after hearing other members’ ideas about the book.
Sallie Pease, Waterloo-Grant Twp. Public Library: Good book & story. A little hard to get into the book.
Christine Sterle, Thorntown Public Library: Couldn’t find any discussion help, but relied on art books more!
Family Tree by Barbara Delinsky
Kay Koppel, Osgood Public Library: Great discussion – book was not one of our favorites, however.
Cynthia Webb, Paoli Public Library: Book was very well received. Good discussion about several themes. The group wants to read more by Delinsky.
Anni Bruns, Eckhart Public Library: We had a healthy discussion on this book. The group enjoyed the various characters and how they handled their conflict.
Sallie Pease, Waterloo Grant Twp. Public Library: Really enjoyed the story.
Paula Starek, Cross & Crown Lutheran Church, Indianapolis: Mixed reaction. Easy to read, but too predictable. Too many offshoot themes.
Lisa Johnson, Brownsburg Community School Corp.: The students said this was their favorite book this year.
Janis Small, Morgan County Public Library, Morgantown: Great book! Most thoughtful discussion. We are going to read more by this author.
Dave Miller, Bartholomew County Public Library, Hope: This was a challenging book for our group, and it led to some mixed reactions. We utilized the author’s online Q&A for the book to facilitate our discussion.
Wendi West, Tipton Public Library: Everyone at book group liked this book. When I asked them to rate the book on a scale of one to five, all gave it a 4 or higher (4.25 average). Beside being a great story, we all loved reading about the locations in and around Indianapolis that we are familiar with.
Marla Krider, Middlebury Community Library: Our teens absolutely adored this book – and we were able to link it to the upcoming movie. We had great input from all who attended, from 6th to 12th grade. They really touched on good subjects & were thoughtful throughout. I would suggest, though, this book stays in upper grades. My 6th graders struggled with the language & content.
Jennifer McKinley, Morgan Co. Public Library: It was an interesting mix of opinions on if this was really just a “cancer book” or something deeper with hope at its core. Great discussion and a good introduction to a fabulous Indiana author.
Kathy Allen, Masonic Home Reading Group, Franklin: We had a deep and animated conversation on a book which many of the ladies initially stated that they did not enjoy reading. By the end of our long/overtime discussion, most had changed their minds finally seeing the kids as remarkably intelligent and realistic. The Fault in Our Stars is cleverly written with a deep sense of very ill children – their attitudes, sensitivities, humor . . .
Dan Von Pein, Cumberland Book Club: Most liked the book. We had a good discussion on many topics, including how we treat those that are sick, surviving spouse issues and others.
Ann Haw, Franklin: This book is very emotional for some people. It is written for youth but has a great deal to say to all ages.
Casey O’Leary, Mooresville Public Library: Very active discussion about technology and its influence.
Debbie Itani, Zionsville Meadows: Although this murder mystery keeps the suspense until the end, it is very difficult for the reader to follow the intermingled stories of about twenty different characters, including Sigmund Freud in the background. The author explores too many opposite views in one story. Rational vs. mythical, masculine approach vs. feminine intuition, facts vs. folklore, truth vs. lies, and propriety vs. promiscuity. The use of description and foreign words is excessive and instead of transporting you to the settings, it loses you again and again.
The significance of the fig as a symbol of sexuality was difficult for my participants to understand. The same happened with the countless mentions of gypsy folklore. These subjects are carried throughout the story, but they seem to appear and disappear randomly. This story was thought-provoking and provided for a very animated discussion, but it was described by my participants as one that is disjointed and hard to follow. Everyone in the group loved the fig cookies and coffee served after the discussion!
Traci Stewart, Walkerton-Lincoln Twp. Public Library: Some loved the book. Others thought there were too many open-ended parts of the story. Beautiful imagery – but not enough answers.
Susann Brown, IDEM: Some of the members had a hard time getting through this book.
First Ladies: An Intimate Group Portrait by Margaret Truman:
Royetta Ingle, Mooresville Public Library: Great discussion!
Shirley Mooney, Marion Public Library: Great book for Book Club discussion. Great discussion we had and everyone really liked this book.
Melissa Hunt, Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library: Liked the information given. Wished for maybe less chapters so author could go more in-depth on the first ladies and maybe focus less on the husbands in each chapter and more on the first ladies.
Barbara Sakowski, Lake Co. Public Library, Dyer-Schererville: Most participants were glad they read the book – entertaining and educational.
Kathy Allen, Masonic Home Reading Group, Franklin: Great discussion with seniors; they have “lived” much of the history.
Phyllis A. Hawkins, Four Seasons Senior Living Community, Columbus: Almost everyone enjoyed it. Somewhat difficult to rad because the author jumped around. Felt somewhat dated.
Judy Hardin, Alexandrian Public Library: They loved the book. Too short for much discussion.
Wendi West, Tipton Public Library: This book made for a great discussion about how our lives are interconnected with so many people – many we are unaware of. Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven was well liked by our group, giving it an average of 4 1/2 stars.
Mary Ann Dubash, Elkhart Public Library: Very positive for enjoyment of novel.
Marsha Jones, Troyer Memorial Library, La Fontaine: the book was grim, good characterization, unpredictable. Several had not read the book or finished it. It was not one of the group’s favorites, but they were glad they read the book.
Melissa Hunt, Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library: Loved book when I was younger, but got new messages from it, reading it again. Brings thoughts of how much nature vs. nurture can come into play. It was well written, great story but sad, just like life.
Melissa Robertson, Sullivan Co. Public Library: We highly recommend this book to other groups. Several of us remembered reading abridged versions in middle school.
Traci Stewart, Walkerton-Lincoln Twp. Public Library: We all liked the book & approved of the writing. Movie? No thanks!
Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner
Mary Ann Dubash, Elkhart: A little predictable but overall enjoyed.
Dave Miller, Bartholomew Co. Public Library, Hope: This one was a quick read! Our group had a mixed reaction to it, with some feeling that the story was over the top. Others found it inspirational. A nice selection for discussion.
Paula Starek, Cross & Crown Lutheran Church: The book was an easy read. Felt the author was a little over the top in describing the journey back for Mary & Gretel. We all agreed we would have died probably in the first week. 🙂
Phyllis Utterback, Brownsburg Public Library: Everyone liked the book.
Ann Haw, Franklin: This book is not easy reading, but at the same time it is also a book one doesn’t want to put down. There is much for discussion.
Food for Thought: An Indiana Harvest
Deborah Kean, Bicknell-Vigo Twp. Public Library: Very informative. Could relate having been in some of the communities.
Amanda Wisler, LaGrange Co. Public Library: Everyone enjoyed the book; most enjoyed it very much. We fund that this book called others to mind – The Thirteenth Tale, The Secret Garden, Les Miz – and generated discussion of those books as well.
Angela Scott, Ligonier Public Library: This book was the favorite of all books read so far.
Sondra Harrell, Wabash: Great discussion. All but 1 really loved this book.
Cynthia Webb, Paoli Public Library: The club members loved this novel!
Freckles by Gene Stratton-Porter:
Christie Sinclair, Danville Public Library: They loved the book! Many were interested in reading more Gene Stratton-Porter books and learning more about her life.
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fanny Flagg:
Donna Browne, Muncie Public Library: A very entertaining book with deep themes, and an upbeat way to end our spring series.
Courtney Block, Charlestown Clark County Public Library: They enjoyed that this book had a movie tie-in and that it was much older than others we’ve discussed.
Starr DeJesus, Mitchell Community Public Library: This book still comes up in some of our senior citizens’ book sessions as one of their favorites. They identified not only with Mrs. Threadgoode (the lady in the nursing home telling the story) but with the time period of her story. Fannie Flagg’s novels can be enjoyed by any generation.
Ann Haw, Franklin: Fun read.
Kimberly Porter, Bloomfield-Eastern Green Co. Public Library: We read the book prior to movie night. Then we watch the movie & discuss.
Trina Roark, Jackson County Public Library: My first book discussion! Had a lot of fun with this. Hard book to get into. Story skips around – but most really enjoyed. Rated 7+.
Marsha Jones, Troyer Memorial Library, La Fontaine: Favorite characters: Evelyn, Idgy, Sipsy, Eva. Murde3r trial was bigger in the movie.
The Friendly Persuasion by Jessamyn West:
Donna Fields, Peru Public Library: This book was disappointing to each of us – not like the movie. Everyone in our group declared the book “boring”. We thought this book would give more about Quaker culture instead of just nice short stories.
Starr deJesus, Mitchell Community Public Library: Our group did not care for this book. They found the writing difficult to understand at times and the story line was vague in several chapters.
Mindy Patterson, Kendallville Public Library: Loved this book. Classic read.
Kathy Hyman, Westminster Village, West Lafayette: A book about 2 who loved each other, accepted the other’s differences – and went forward without rancor.
Read Nancy’s review.