Dear Mrs. Bird

September 2018

Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce

Let me start off by saying that everyone LOVED this book cover. And I do mean everyone. The letters- set like an old typewriter’s keys… come on? Who wouldn’t love that and the colors? This cover captured your heart and sadly, that is about it for this book.

When reading the synopsis and reviews for the book- you read words like Charming, Plucky and Fresh to describe this story. For those that have not read Dear Mrs. Bird- Here is the synopsis:

“Emmeline Lake and her best friend Bunty are doing their bit for the war effort and trying to stay cheerful, despite the German planes making their nightly raids. Emmy dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent, and when she spots a job advertisement in the newspaper she seizes her chance; but after a rather unfortunate misunderstanding, she finds herself typing letters for the formidable Henrietta Bird, renowned advice columnist of Woman’s Friend magazine.

Mrs. Bird is very clear: letters containing any Unpleasantness must go straight into the bin. But as Emmy reads the desperate pleas from women who many have Gone Too Far with the wrong man, or can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she begins to secretly write back to the readers who have poured out their troubles.”

Seems Intriguing right? Once you start reading the book; you realize that 1- it is a very easy read and that 2- you think you like the book. Once you finish the book and actually begin to think about the story… you are left with this dread. With this “What the hell?” type of feeling. At first, I truly felt that it was just me; that the other D&O gals would say “WHAT?! Karie no! the book was good.” So the night of the meeting came and the verdict? Many felt the same. The story, although easy to read and you wanted to route for the characters left you unfulfilled. The main Character, Emmeline Lake, left you feeling like you wanted to knock some sense into her. The characters around her, that just let her get away with her antics, also left you questioning humanity (Not in a deep sense but in a “Would this really happen” way). She isn’t the go-getter that the synopsis would lead you to believe, instead she is self-centered, careless, immature character that really…. you want to smack up side the head and say “what are you thinking?”.

The end of the book leaves much to be desired as well. The author manages to wrap it up in a bow and the pieces that don’t tie up… are not mentioned. It really is sad that a book that we thought was going to be interesting/enjoyable left us not wanting more and truly not excited.

Any D&O’s out there that have any thing that they would like to add… please do! And for those of you reading along… what were your thoughts on this book?

The Gashlycrumb Tinies

For the month of October 2018, Dine & Opine read The Gashlycrumb Tinies. Although a few have mentioned that the book is more like a picture book than a “traditional” book; I have faith that the discussion will be one that we will all enjoy. Can’t wait to discuss this one!

Update: Let me start by saying “wow”. We read the book. I mean, seriously, it is not at all a tough book. Very much a cartoon/picture book style and very quick to read. I believe many said they read the book in about 30 seconds… lol. So with a book with little words, stretches and no main plot besides rhyming deaths…. what in the world would we discuss? Ah… Here is what I learned about myself… I wanted to find questions. I searched, read articles, background on the author and then it was as if the student in me jumped up and down and instead of searching… I began researching. Very quickly it became clear that although there are many articles and papers covering the book, the theories behind the book, etc. There were no exact “Discussion Questions”. That being the case, I decided to create questions based on the research that I had done.

The night of D&O’s meeting came. Those in attendance joked about the book. We thought it was cute. Then, I began to go through the questions. Slowly, the discussion went from this is cute and we were thrusted into a conversation regarding the darker material that can be found in the book, the author’s intent and strangers vs familiar people.

At the end of the night we agreed that the book was good. Amy, a fellow D&O, kept saying that she thought I “Made up these questions”. I told her over and over… “I did… based on my research”. Suhanti, a fellow D&O, asked to take the questions home to share with her daughter. My point is that even though a book can seem so easy… you can immerse yourself into the book and find that even the easiest book, many times, can have layers… like an onion… or an Ogre. (Yes, I am quoting a line from the movie Shrek. It seemed fitting).

And never fear… I am including the questions here. I hope you read them and if you have any input.. share! Would love to hear others view points/thoughts on this book!

Discussion Questions for The Gashlycrumbs Tinies

 

The book of Unknown Americans

May 2018

For the month of May we read The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez.

Thinking back to when we read The Book of Unknown Americans I remember the following things:

  • The writing was simple (makes this book a quick read)
  • Even though the book was a quick read- I remember taking time with the book and enjoying the development of the characters.
  • I felt that there was a window that allowed me to look/experience the life that immigrants face.

There are a couple of other items that come back to mind when reflecting on this book. However, the last bullet point is the one that really sits strongly in my memory. The story, built around a family that faces serious changes after the daughter has an accident, is gripping. The story covers so many matters of the heart; love, happiness, sadness, guilt, death, acceptance, hopes and dreams. If I remember correctly; I believe that every character has a moment where they deal with each matter of the heart.

Schindler’s Ark

April 2018

Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally

 

Sometimes it happens. Sometimes you don’t read a book. I completely missed reading this book. I can’t remember why and that bothers me a little. I normally will read every book. I guess missing one every once in a while is ok and not that bad. So, I will have to rely on the other Dine and Opiner’s for this book discussion. I hope that they will comment and/or email me so that I can add their opinions on this book… and any other book discussion.

Educated: A Memoir book Discussion

July 2018

Educated: A Memoir by Tata Westover


What can we say about this book that hasn’t already been said? This book was a wonderfully captivating read. As a whole we, D&O, enjoyed the book and could not stop talking about all of the cringe worthy stories. A few D&O ladies were quick to be able to share moments from their life that were crazy, a way of connecting with the author. We discussed the idea of how people remember things differently. There were so many moments when discussing different parts of this memoir.

We even began google searching, at the table, information on the author and her family; trying to find anything that would fill in the gaps/questions that we began to point out and discuss. This book, we all agreed, is one that we would recommend to another reader.

 

Book discussion on The Power

March 2018

The book pick for March was The Power by Naomi Alderman.

To be completely honest. I am drawing a blank on this book. I remember a funny thing that happened, to me not in the book. I ordered the book and it arrived. See, normally I go to the locally owned book store, this time around I didn’t. I knew I wouldn’t have time til a few days later and I wanted to start reading this book; so I ordered in online. When the book arrived I was reminded as to why I like to go into book stores… you see the book that arrived was the correct book- only in Spanish. Now, I did take Spanish in high school; however my capability to read this book, in Spanish, was beyond me. So I am hoping that a few of the other Dine & Opiners can help me out and share their opinions on the book!

 

Book Discussion on Less

August 2018

For the month of August we read Less by Andrew Sean Greer. The Dine & Opine Ladies definitely had a few thoughts on this book. It received mixed reviews. The readers that did not completely enjoy the book felt (and I am paraphrasing here) disconnected. Many missed the humor that the author was portraying. The Dine & Opine ladies that enjoyed the book- really enjoyed the book.

Being one of the D&Os that enjoyed the book, here are my thoughts on Less. Using a writing technique that makes everything in a book seem simple is not an easy task. Throwing in the sense of humor that comes across with ease; truly makes this book a delightful read. With all characters the reader will feel a connection and not even realize how much of a character’s development will have taken place until the end of the book. Arthur, an unaware genius, is a lovable aging man facing self awareness and future path of his life. The characters that surround him help in building the background information of Arthur’s character.

Before We Were Yours- Discussion review

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate.

Where to start? First, months ago I had began typing this post and I had thought that I had saved it to come back to proof before posting. Sigh. I didn’t save it and for some reason (technology hates me sometimes) the auto save function didn’t save anything except the title. So here we are now! Months later and it is my goal to get this blog up to date and it all starts with this book.

Before We Were Yours- Book Discussion- take 2.

This book. Even though it has been months since I have read this novel and since the Dine & Opine discussion, I still remember so many points of discussion. All members were in agreement that this book is amazing. Building this story around the history of stealing children and selling them, with higher authorities in the know, created an unforgettable read.

One point of discussion that came up during Dine & Opine’s conversation was regarding adoptions. There are so many questions that come to mind surrounding adoptions. When adopting a baby/toddler- when do you, the parent, tell the child? Is it something that you choose to acknowledge immediately? Or is it something that you choose to wait til a time that works for everyone? When adopting an older child- there are memories that the child has, perhaps traditions (holidays) that they, the child, might want to hang onto and continue. How do you, the parent(s), work with the child to make them feel at home?

These questions, and many others were asked during our discussion. I think one reason is that in this heartbreaking story, the children never had a say, no one listened. They were made into new personas and had to live their storylines set up by complete strangers. The new parents unaware, for the most part, of the truth behind these orphans were then trying to build a family with a fictional glue.

Book Discussion The Wife Between Us

February’s book pick offered the Dine & Opine ladies a genre that we haven’t read in a while… Thriller. For myself, coming off of ready All the King’s Men, this was a nice brain break read. Now, don’t take that to mean that this book is a no-need-to-think book. This book definitely doesn’t fit in that category.

When I read thrillers, mysteries, who-done-its books- normally I can tell early on who did what, why and so forth. This book – I HAD NO CLUE. Think Gone Girl but different (I figured out Gone Girl before the twist was given). And in this book, the book with TWO authors, there is more than one twist. There are multiple and they are surprising.

This book received an all around THUMBS UP from the Dine & Opine Ladies!

Now time to read March’s book- The Power.

Did you read The Wife Between Us? Did you like it? Dislike it?

Book Discussion for All the King’s Men

So it has been awhile since I have posted anything on here. I really dropped the ball! Hopefully you are following us on Social Media and know that we haven’t disappeared. The Book for January was All The Kings Men. I feel as though I shouldn’t write a post about this book… I didn’t finish the book. Now, that is not to say I didn’t try. BOY did I try…three or four times.

Luckily, during this book’s month- we, the ladies of Dine and Opine, went on a weekend getaway. During this weekend we enjoyed watching the 2006 movie adaptation featuring Sean Penn and Jude Law. Now the movie was, at least for myself, really good and it actually helped with getting me motivated to keep reading. The only downside was that the movie covered everything I had already read and only a few things that I hadn’t read… and I had about 250ish pages still to read. hmmmm. So I tried to keep reading and I finally (And not overly excited to fail at not finishing the book) gave up.

So did all the D & O ladies give up? NO! Did some enjoy the book? YES! Do I think that I will ever finish the book? I have no idea. Actually that’s not true. In this case, I can say at this moment… I do not foresee myself picking up that book to start reading it again any time soon!

Did you read the book? Did you like the book?