The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Monday, February 16, 2015

Book Cluuub! Book Cluuuub! Get Your Red-Hot Book Club Here!

       Okay, to be completely honest, the only reason why any of my friends last night could be called "red hot" is due to menopausal hot flashes. All of us are in our fifties and sixties. Some of us are generously padded. Our hair is naturally gray or silver.But the discussion did get spirited...

       We were there to finally discuss Freeman by Leonard Pitts Jr. This is an epic novel that I've recommended to perfect strangers in airports--it's that good of a book. I've given away two copies of my own and had to hit the Amazon and the Half Price Books gods for replacements. Rarely is there an epic novel. This is one, and it covers a period of history (right after the end of the Civil War) and from a perspective (an escaped slave) that is rarely told... and rarely told with such wonderful craftsmanship.

       Delicious food (I brought BLT soup) was part of the evening, along with great conversation and marvelous company. We are now tossing ideas back and forth as we decide what our next book will be.

       These are my suggestions for the group:


I've read this. In my opinion, it's Hosseini's best, especially if you're
looking for a woman's story.


This is another one I've already read. It's typical of Picoult. Lots of
research was involved in the writing, and there are some twists and
turns. It's a novel about the holocaust which will leave the reader in a quandary...

  
This is one I have not read yet. I bought a copy, intending to read it
(gently and carefully, abstaining from eating chocolate ice cream or taking a bath
or eating chocolate ice cream in the bathtub while reading it) so I could give it
as a gift to a writing friend, but ended up sending it without reading it. Shay--a rabid fan
of Emily Dickinson--loved it, so it comes with a high recommendation...


This was recommended by Shay as well. It begins with a couple of great lines.
"In love we find out who we want to be.
In war we find out who we are."
I've read several of Hannah's books--because of Shay--and enjoyed them. This one
is about two sisters in France during the war.

I saw this on Amazon. It looks good. Has anyone out there (who is reading this post) read it?

One of the women (a newbie in our group) suggested a Nora Roberts book. Who is this Nora Roberts? Egads! Doesn't she know Sioux don't do no romance-type novels? I did mention to her that I have a writing friend who has a romance book (the first in a set of triplets) that I'm going to read in May... but only because it's by Lisa Ricard Claro. Nora Roberts? No way.

Are there any other recommendations for our book club?

And if you're in the mood for some BLT soup, here are the ingredients, since I don't really follow a recipe. My husband makes it--he's added some of the secret ingredients--and he follows a recipe that he's created. Me? Not so much... Take the ingredients and adjust according to your tastes.


  • fire-roasted tomatoes (made by Hunts, but you can also find them at Aldi's now)--at least 5 or 6 cans
  •        chicken stock/chicken bouillon (we like "Better Than Bouillon" brand)
  •     bacon--fry it til it's crisp and done, and then cut or tear or crumble it       into small pieces
  •     romaine hearts lettuce
  •     liquid smoke
  •     grated parmesan cheese (this is a secret ingredient)
  •   (sssh. Don't tell anyone about this secret ingredient) seasoning (I love a blend called          "seasoning for greens." I imagine you can get it at most spice shops.  I use it on just about everything, from scrambled eggs to mashed      potatoes to chicken and soups.)
The cheese is put in towards the end--to thicken it. Amazingly, parts of the lettuce stays crunchy even though it simmers in the soup.

It is not an attractive-to-look-at soup, but it is tasty. In fact, one of the women last night took her portion, blended it in the blender, and the end result: a scrumptious cream soup. 










26 comments:

  1. The soup and the books both sound wonderful, and thanks for the shout outs!

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  2. Love these suggestions! I am adding them to my reading list! (I have to admit that I enjoy Nora Roberts books. Sometimes I just want to be entertained and not have to think too much!) I am a member of a Virtual Book Club. I just read The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. It got great reviews but it just was not my type of book and I forced myself to finish it. In January we read The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield which was a pretty interesting book. This month we are reading The Book Shop by Penelope Fitzgerald and I have just started it.

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    1. Pat--I have to admit. I am in the minority when it comes to romance novels.

      I read "The Thirteenth Tale" too, and enjoyed it. Let me know how "The Book Shop" is.

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  3. It sounds like a great evening all around. I like your book choices; I have already read 3 and they are extra good. I just finish Bird of Fall by Brad Kessler. It was a sleeper from my sister in law. It was a great read, different. Writing is excellent. It is small book and reads fast.

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    1. Claudia--I will have to check out "Bird of Fall." I like "different"...

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  4. I am going to give Freeman a shot.

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    1. Joe--You won't be sorry. I promise.

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  5. You wear so many hats, literary lady, chef, teacher. Read and write on!

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    1. Linda--With hair like mine, I need to wear a hat. ;)

      And thanks to the WWWPs, I have a reason to write.

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  6. Can I make that soup without juice? Because my husband prefers his soup without juice, just towering above the rim of the bowl by a good four or five inches.

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    1. Val--You can put extra bacon in it and just make a tower of bacon. THAT would work, I think...

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  7. Thanks for the mention, Sioux! And really, you don't know la Nora? She's the Romance Queen. You ought to read something of hers. I bet you'd like it. I recommend an oldie, but one of my faves: The Vineyard. Also, Three Fates is good, too.

    I'm almost done with The Kite Runner. That book has broken my heart six ways to Sunday. And I cannot put it down.

    The BLT soup rocks. You provided the recipe a while back and I fixed it for the fam. Yummy!

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  8. Lisa--That's what happens when you get to be my age. You tell the same stories over and over. You share a recipe again and again. Yikes!

    I know Nora Roberts writes romance, and I probably would enjoy her books--she most likely crafts great plots--but there are so many other books I want to read that are more to my liking... and not enough time to read them all.

    I'm glad you like "The Kite Runner." You should read "A Thousand Splendid Suns." Someone asked him at a book signing why his books don't have happy endings, and he said something like, "I write about real life, and real life rarely has happy, fairytale endings with all the loose threads tied up nice and neat."

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Haha---I wasn't complaining about a repeat. And anyway, when something is wonderful, there is no such thing as too much sharing. Okay, well, maybe that isn't exactly true, but you get what I mean. :)

      It really is tough to find time to read everything. I squeeze my reading in at odd times throughout the day. I'm looking forward to a time soon when deadlines are met and I can just curl up and read for a few hours. In the meantime, I make do with the catch-it-as-I-can.

      Your last comment made me think about how there is room---and a need---for all types of books. "The Kite Runner" is amazing, but it is a bit of an emotional battering (in a good way---hits home, makes you view the world differently). He's right about life not often having happily-ever-afters, which is exactly why I love romance novels. The escapism, the happy endings, are achieved vicariously. We need both types of books---indeed, all types of books---to feed our souls in different ways. We're fortunate to live in a place where these needs can be met without (too much) censorship. I'll finish "The Kite Runner" today, and while I've loved every second of it (the writing is fantastic), I'll follow up with a romance, something to pour a balm over the heartbreak. Someone else might pick up a Chicken Soup book for the same effect. How fortunate we are to have those options!

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  9. I read mostly middle grade and YA (and there are some excellent books out there in kidlit!) but I also read THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI by Helene Wecker, a richly textured, inspired novel. It's provocative enough to inspire great book club discussion, too.

    Though it's a VERY long book...if your book club is anything like my old book club, only two people will read the whole book, two people will read maybe half (enough to sort of fake their way through the discussion) and the others will drink wine and pass secret notes to each other. Not saying which group I usually ended up with, but I will say I do love a nice Cabernet. :-)

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    1. Cathy--I'm in the "stare-off-and-try-to-look-thoughtful" club sometimes. I will have to check out "The Golem and the Jinni" because it sounds like a goodie.

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  10. What with being a guy and all, I feel a bit off balance offering ideas for a book club of the female persuasion (who persuaded you?), but here are a couple.
    Someone Else's Skin by Sarah Hilary
    Life Erupted by Mary Stanik
    I Remember You or the Thora series by Yrsa Sigurdardottir
    Fly Away Home by Maggie Myklebust
    Burial Rites by Hanna Kent

    Many of these are first novels, but are fresh because of that.

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    1. Jono--Hey...You're a guy who reads novels, and apparently (I'm assuming) not all of them are shoot 'em up or full of T and A. Or are they? ;)

      Thanks for the suggestions. I'm always looking for new authors...

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  11. I would have to go with Dickinstein!

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  12. Mama Zen--I am going to have to buy a copy of Yarbrough's "Dickinstein" and read it on my own (the group chose Doerr's book) since I gave Shay my one and only copy.

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  13. I am reading The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley and am so totally hooked. It's about a best selling writer of historical fiction/romance. She's working on a new book and the chapters alternate between the present and the story she's writing. Both stories are really good. The book appears to be quite well researched (1708 Scotland).

    Her books are self-described as "modern gothic novels that blend historical adventure and modern-day suspense with romance and a touch of something spooky, so they don't fit neatly into any category". I will definitely be reading more of her work!

    Pat
    Critter Alley

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    1. Pat--Now that might be a romance/gothic novel that I'd enjoy, since it's also about a writer. Thanks for the recommendation.

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  14. Those all look like good choices. I KNOW the soup is wonderful!

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    1. Tammy--We ultimately chose Doerr's "All the Light We Cannot See." I've only just begun (can you hear Karen Carpenter's voice sing that slightly altered line?) but so far, so good...

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Thanks for your comments. I appreciate you taking the time to stop by...