Where the Crawdads Sing

March 2019 Book:

Where the Crawdads Sing.                                                  Book Pick: Sondra

Book Synopsis:

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

Book Discussion:

The Dine and Opine ladies met at Krazy Fish. Apparently the meeting took place on Whiskey Night so the notes are a bit fuzzy. I, myself, was not in attendance so I will add my personal thoughts at the bottom of this post. Deciphering the notes shared here are some topics that where discussed:

Setting- Taking place in the Marsh of NC, how did that shape the novel? The descriptiveness of the marsh- was it helpful to those readers whom have never visited a marsh? If the area was not so remote- would she have been able to get away with her actions, and just living the way she did?

Education- The topic of how mean people where to her when she went to school. Do you think people should have been more understanding? Do you agree with her for not returning to school?

Demographics- The hierarchy that took place in the book. Where did she fall in the line? Why was she treated differently by different groups?

Time- Could you place a timeline on the book? When was this happening?

Friendships- Jumping and Mable are friendly and drawn to help her… why? Once thought was that they were all seen as outsiders.

Why did her mom leave?

How is Womanhood revealed throughout the novel?

Is Tate a good partner?

The book received a Thumbs Up all around! So Welcome to the Best Of list!!

Karie’s Thoughts:

Two words: UGLY CRY. I began reading this book and I was intrigued. I don’t think you need to have grown up in the Marsh to be able to connect with Kya. In society, as a whole, no matter where you are- there are hierarchies and I bet that even you have felt like an outsider. Reading about the struggle the siblings went through prior to escaping is not only heart-wrenching but fuses your own experiences with leaving a bad situation (Whatever that might have been) with Kya.

Reading the struggles Kya deals with regarding school, acceptance, loneliness and basic survival made me admire her strength and her stubbornness. When she choose to let people in, it was as if there was an innocence that captivated those around her. Almost a pureness. She was who she is. I think it must be refreshing to meet someone who is upfront and isn’t looking to “gain” anything. Just to be.

As I mentioned early… I started this post with 2 words, UGLY CRY. I haven’t ugly cried to a book in a long while. Oh- I have gotten misty eyed or cried a few gentle tears…. This book… I bawled. Like If I would have had on make-up- my face would have been washed away. I was reading this book while on Spring break with the family. One night everyone was going to bed. I wanted to read so I curled up in a chair with the reading lamp on and a glass of wine. I thought I would read perhaps just a chapter or two. Well, two chapters later I am crying (Trying not to wake anyone) and I poured myself another glass of wine. That night I finished the book (I was only about 1/4 to 1/3 into the book when I originally sat down). I finished. Sat the book down. Poured another glass of wine and went and sat on the balcony watching the waves (We were in Ft. Lauderdale) to just decompress afterwards.

I agree with the Thumbs up. This book is a wonderful read and I can’t wait to discuss it with others who have read this book. Did you read the book? Did you like it? Love it? Hate it? Let us know!

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

February  2019 Book Pick

Eleanor Elephant is Completely Fine: A Novel

by Gail Honeyman

Synopsis:

No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine.

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Soon to be a major motion picture produced by Reese Witherspoon, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . .

The only way to survive is to open your heart.

 

Book Discussion:

Check back for Update!

 

My (Karie’s) Thoughts on Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine:

Where to start? There are so many points that should be covered in the discussion of this book. So let’s start with Eleanor. Well, I actually think almost every question that could be discussed probably includes Eleanor in some way. Let me just start from the beginning.

My first initial thought of Eleanor, honestly, was that she might have been on the spectrum for Autism. Having a nephew on the spectrum, I recognized a few similar traits. However, I believe I was wrong. The reason being that at the end of the book and learning everything about Eleanor- being socially non-immediately conforming is not a reason to believe that someone is on the spectrum. I actually was feeling quite mad at myself. See, for those that do not know me, I have a tendency to be a very up front, non-sugar coating, truth bomb type of person. I have always figured that if someone asks my opinion then I will give it. None of that “I love you but” bullcrap. COME ON…. the BUT cancels out the I love you part. Before I go off on some other thought tread lets continue, Just because Eleanor is up front with formalities and within the way she shares information shouldn’t have placed a label on her. I actually really love that about her character. Her straight forwardness, her attention to details and her bewilderment at the details that some choose to focus.

That brings me to my next point. The co-workers. I find it amusing that the co-workers (Raymond excluded) pretty much ignore and mock her…. until she starts adhering to the “Social Norms” i.e. wearing makeup, having newer/nicer clothes, hair done…. all the stereotypical woman magazine “Make Him Notice You” crap. I get it; I really do. We, as women, want to feel pretty. We fall into those traps. And what baffles me; is even though we will bitch and complain about it all, when someone doesn’t follow those “Rules” or “Social Norms” then some women will treat that person differently. Why? In today’s society it still baffles me that people, who aren’t the “Social norm”, must adjust their behavior to be liked or to make those around them comfortable. And this is only a 1 way road. Me, being me, I have never had someone change their conversation from some gossip to world news to make me feel included. I have been told to “be softer” or to “Say it nicer”. So why is it that it is expected for some to curve their personality and not others? If one is willing to bend- then others should as well.

On the flip side of this conversation- Because Eleanor decided to under go changes (Although it was for the “Project” i.e. a man) I wonder if she was ready for a change. After everything that happened to her and how long she has been harboring the details- I wonder if a part of her just wanted to rip out of her current shell and put on a new one- like a growing crab running out of space and finally reaches a point where it needs a new, bigger and brighter shell. I wonder if that is where the sudden onset of needing to change, to “fit the life style of what the musician would expect”, comes from. I think she might have needed a reason, to justify growing from the person who she was to who she wants to be.

Next discussion point: Mummy. This will be my last discussion point for a while. I am still making notes on a couple of things and actually I am excited for the Dine & Opine Discussion on this book. Many people are lucky enough to not have experienced anything traumatic. Unfortunately, there are those that have. How one deals with the events is different for each person. How I dealt worked for me… might not work for someone else. However, I think that a person, who has lived through something horrible, can understand why someone else might be dealing with their event in a certain way. Which is why I can kind of understand Eleanor and Mummy. Here are my thoughts:

Eleanor feels like she failed. No. Not just feel, in her eyes she did fail. She tried hard to be the perfect daughter, to make her mummy proud. Because I think she felt that if she could just make her mummy proud then all would be better. Mummy would be happy. When the fire happened and she learns that mummy set the fire on purpose- I think it broke her. Here she was trying, trying so hard to make everything right, trying to make her mummy happy and her mummy killed her sister and Eleanor was suppose to die- but survived. The guilt of not being able to save her sister, to live up to the crazy standards of mummy- standards that would never have been met, she blames herself. With the blame she keeps mummy in her head because she is scared to move forward. I think she was afraid to move on until the “Project”. I think her “project” was a way of breaking free and stepping out of her mummy’s shadow.

 

 

The Glass Palace Book Discussion

 

Book: The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh

Month: December 2018

Restaurant: Inchin’s Bamboo Garden

Book Synopsis:

“Set in Burma during the British invasion of 1885, this masterly novel by Amitav Ghosh tells the story of Rajkumar, a poor boy lifted on the tides of political and social chaos, who goes on to create an empire in the Burmese teak forest. When soldiers force the royal family out of the Glass Palace and into exile, Rajkumar befriends Dolly, a young woman in the court of the Burmese Queen, whose love will shape his life. He cannot forget her, and years later, as a rich man, he goes in search of her. The struggles that have made Burma, India, and Malaya the places they are today are illuminated in this wonderful novel by the writer Chitra Divakaruni calls “a master storyteller.””

Book Discussion:

Well, what to say? First let’s start with my initial thoughts and that begins with a few fun facts:

  1. I restarted this book 3 times…. that’s right… THREE times. I would start the book, then put it down. When I picked the book up to continue; I had to restart because I was a bit confused on where I was in the story.
  2. I still haven’t finish the book.

Now for my thoughts. I am not far into the book, (I seriously just reached into my purse and pulled the damn thing out) I am on page 95; 95 out of 470. Ugh. The story feels disjointed. I can’t place my finger on the exact cause of this feeling. After discussing the book last night (We met on Tuesday instead of Thursday due to scheduling conflicts), I think I figured out at least one reason. This book is classified as Historical Fiction, which is a genre I LOVE, however the book does fall on the more historical side of the genre. Which isn’t a problem. The problem, for me, is not understanding why the author choose some topics to go into GREAT detail about and not others, often time just dropping a topic. The greatest example is his long, detailed description regarding Anthrax and the elephants. If you want to lose your appetite then read pages 79-82. Why so much detail was given on the pustules on the rear of an elephant that grow to the size of a pineapple and then begin to leak a whitish ooze, which in turn, then become Rivulets of blood-streaked puss and not on more details regarding the oo-si in the story or even more history, is beyond me.

The Group Discussion.

Here are the details around Dine & Opine’s meeting.

  • We officially have a new rule (now we really don’t – but kind of do- have rules so we like to poke fun at ourselves) Rule 500 sub paragraph a under book discussions: Discussion questions must be under 3 sentences long. A half page question will, from this point forward, be skipped. (After food and wine; our attention spans are not that long)
  • This book was not a hard read. However, if you choose to read this story- please note that the characters are not developed enough.
  • Again- this book falls heavily on the Historical part of the Historical Fiction genre.
  • This story is for those who want to know history that learn better through Visual Literature.

 

As always we concluded our meeting with Book Picks! This month it was Jennifer’s turn to bring the picks. The picks were as follows:

  • Insurrecto
  • America is not the Heart
  • In the Country: Stories

The winner (most votes) is America is not the Heart. We hope you read along!

Venetia Book Discussion

Book: Venetia by Georgette Heyer

Month: November 2018

Restaurant: Carpe Diem

Book Synopsis:

“Beautiful, capable, and intendent minded, Venetia Lanyon‘s life on her family’s estate in the country side is somewhat restricted.  But her neighbor, the infamous Lord Dameral, a charming rake shunned by polite society is about to shake things up.

Lord Damerel has built his life on his dangerous reputation, and when he meets Venetia, he has nothing to offer and everything to regret. Though his scandalous past and deepest secrets give Venetia reason to mistrust him, a rogue always gets what he wants.

As Venetia’s well-meaning family steps in to protect her from potential ruin, Venetia must find the wherewithal to take charge of her own destiny, or lose her chance at happiness.”

Discussion:

I cannot tell a lie. I love Period pieces. I just do. I find it absolutely fascinating to read a book taking place during a different time, and losing myself in the ways of that period. Now, with that being said.. I enjoyed this book- however apparently I didn’t read the whole book. Back story:

I ordered the book from amazon (the local store didn’t have it and it would have taken weeks to get the book in). The book was suppose to be delivered within 7 days. THAT DID NOT HAPPEN. As the days went by, it became apparent that the book would not arrive in time for me to read the book prior to D & O’s meeting. ARGH!!! Luckily, one of the D&O ladies said that the book was available on Hoopla (Our local Library’s app). So I happily opened my app and searched. There it was… and even better (Since I really do not like reading on electronics – I stare at a screen enough) it was available on Audiobook! Be still my heart! So I downloaded that book and listened away.

Listen away I did… the whole like 5 hrs of the book. hmmm…. thought it would take longer… but I listened, I know the story, wish a couple more details would have been discussed, but liked the book. Time for D&O’s meeting. (By the way.. the book arrived that day before the meeting)

We begin discussing the book. All of a sudden there is talk of when she was picking berries… I say “You mean when she’s walking along the property?” YES… answered many…. I sat there thinking “Hmmmmm I don’t remember berries.” The discussion continues. Finally after a few mentioned scenes and I say “I think my audiobook left out parts.” SMH… it was then that I realized the audiobook that I listened too was the Abridged version of the story. Sigh. At least it was a good laugh and a very important reminder… Read the title fully. That being said. This book was enjoyed by many. The part of the conversation, (For myself) that I most enjoyed, was when we were discussing the question “IF you had to choose one character to be from the story, who would it be and why?”

 

D&O Ladies.. any thoughts y’all would like to share regarding this book discussion?

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 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.

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 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?