Book club September 2016 and Friday Finds

Picture from my bookshelves
edited with Pixlr

I’m presenting here the books we shared
at our last block Book Club meeting
– it’s a potluck book club,
meaning each member shares about his/her latest good read.
Awesome for diversity in books, lively conversations,
and your TBR getting suddenly taller!
(synopsis taken from

1. Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor by Lynda Barry  (2014)
presented by L.

Award-winning author Lynda Barry is the creative force behind the genre-defying and bestselling work What It Is. She believes that anyone can be a writer and she has set out to prove it. For the past decade, Lynda has run a highly popular writing workshop for non-writers called Writing the Unthinkable – the workshop was featured in the New York Times magazine.
Syllabus: Notes from an accidental professor is the first book that will make her innovative lesson plans and writing exercises available to the public for home or classroom use. Barry’s course has been embraced by people of all walks of life – prison inmates, postal workers, university students, teachers, and hairdressers – for opening paths to creativity.
Syllabus takes the course plan for Lynda Barry’s workshop and runs wild with it in Barry’s signature densely detailed style. Collaged texts, ballpoint pen doodles, and watercolor washes adorn Syllabus’ yellow lined pages, which offer advice on finding a creative voice and using memories to inspire the writing process. Throughout it all, Lynda Barry’s voice (as author and teacher-mentor) rings clear, inspiring, and honest.

2. Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate (2007)
presented by C.

Kek comes from Africa. In America he sees snow for the first time, and feels its sting. He’s never walked on ice, and he falls. He wonders if the people in this new place will be like the winter – cold and unkind.

In Africa, Kek lived with his mother, father, and brother. But only he and his mother have survived, and now she’s missing. Kek is on his own. Slowly, he makes friends: a girl who is in foster care; an old woman who owns a rundown farm, and a cow whose name means “family” in Kek’s native language. As Kek awaits word of his mother’s fate, he weathers the tough Minnesota winter by finding warmth in his new friendships, strength in his memories, and belief in his new country.

Bestselling author Katherine Applegate presents a beautifully wrought novel about an immigrant’s journey from hardship to hope.
Home of the Brave is a 2008 Bank Street – Best Children’s Book of the Year.

3. Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence by Rosalind Wiseman (2009)
presented by M.

When Rosalind Wiseman first published Queen Bees & Wannabes, she fundamentally changed the way adults look at girls’ friendships and conflicts–from how they choose their best friends, how they express their anger, their boundaries with boys, and their relationships with parents. Wiseman showed how girls of every background are profoundly influenced by their interactions with one another.
Now, Wiseman has revised and updated her groundbreaking book for a new generation of girls and explores:

•How girls’ experiences before adolescence impact their teen years, future relationships, and overall success
•The different roles girls play in and outside of cliques as Queen Bees, Targets, and Bystanders, and how this defines how they and others are treated
•Girls’ power plays–from fake apologies to fights over IM and text messages
•Where boys fit into the equation of girl conflicts and how you can help your daughter better hold her own with the opposite sex
•Checking your baggage–recognizing how your experiences impact the way you parent, and how to be sanely involved in your daughter’s difficult, yet common social conflicts

Packed with insights about technology’s impact on Girl World and enlivened with the experiences of girls, boys, and parents, the book that inspired the hit movie Mean Girls offers concrete strategies to help you empower your daughter to be socially competent and treat herself with dignity.

Another book by the same author was mentionned:

Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World

4. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware  (July 2016)
presented by A.

In this tightly wound story, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…
With surprising twists and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another intense read.

5.  A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (2014)
also presented by A.

A grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?
Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

6. The Final Days, by Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein  (1976)
presented by P.

The Final Days is the classic, behind-the-scenes account of Richard Nixon’s dramatic last months as president. Moment by moment, Bernstein and Woodward portray the taut, post-Watergate White House as Nixon, his family, his staff, and many members of Congress strained desperately to prevent his inevitable resignation. This brilliant book reveals the ordeal of Nixon’s fall from office — one of the gravest crises in presidential history.

7.  The Last Days of Stalin, by Joshua Rubenstein (May 2016)
presented by J.

Joshua Rubenstein’s riveting account takes us back to the second half of 1952 when no one could foresee an end to Joseph Stalin’s murderous regime. He was poised to challenge the newly elected U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower with armed force, and was also broadening a vicious campaign against Soviet Jews. Stalin’s sudden collapse and death in March 1953 was as dramatic and mysterious as his life. It is no overstatement to say that his passing marked a major turning point in the twentieth century.

The Last Days of Stalin is an engaging, briskly told account of the dictator’s final active months, the vigil at his deathbed, and the unfolding of Soviet and international events in the months after his death. Rubenstein throws fresh light on
· the devious plotting of Beria, Malenkov, Khrushchev, and other “comrades in arms” who well understood the significance of the dictator’s impending death;
· the witness-documented events of his death as compared to official published versions;
· Stalin’s rumored plans to forcibly exile Soviet Jews;
· the responses of Eisenhower and Secretary of State Dulles to the Kremlin’s conciliatory gestures after Stalin’s death; and
· the momentous repercussions when Stalin’s regime of terror was cut short.

8. The Collector, by Nora Roberts (2014)
presented by S.

From #1 New York Times-bestselling author Nora Roberts comes a novel of a woman who needs nothing, a man who sees everything, and the web of deceit, greed, and danger that brings them together—and could tear them apart . . .

When professional house-sitter Lila Emerson witnesses a murder/suicide from her current apartment-sitting job, life as she knows it takes a dramatic turn. Suddenly, the woman with no permanent ties finds herself almost wishing for one. . . .

Artist Ashton Archer knows his brother isn’t capable of violence—against himself or others. He recruits Lila, the only eyewitness, to help him uncover what happened. Ash longs to paint her as intensely as he hungers to touch her. But their investigation draws them into a rarified circle where priceless antiques are bought, sold, gambled away, and stolen, where what you possess is who you are, and where what you desire becomes a deadly obsession. . . .

death-at-the-paris-exposition9. Death at the Paris Exposition (Emily Cabot Mysteries #6), by Frances McNamara (September 1st, 2016)
presented by me

Amateur sleuth Emily Cabot’s journey once again takes her to a world’s fair–the Paris Exposition of 1900. Chicago socialite Bertha Palmer is named the only female U. S. commissioner to the Exposition and enlists Emily’s services as her secretary. Their visit to the House of Worth for the fitting of a couture gown is interrupted by the theft of Mrs. Palmer’s famous pearl necklace. Before that crime can be solved, several young women meet untimely deaths and a member of the Palmer’s inner circle is accused of the crimes. As Emily races to clear the family name she encounters jealous society ladies, American heiresses seeking titled European husbands, and more luscious gowns and priceless jewels. Along the way, she takes refuge from the tumult at the country estate of Impressionist painter Mary Cassatt. In between her work and sleuthing, she is able to share the Art Nouveau delights of the Exposition, and the enduring pleasures of the City of Light with her family.

See my own review. It has links where you can see cloths bought by Bertha Palmer in Paris during the World Exhibit, and views of Paris at the time:

10. Nutshell, by Ian McEwan (September 13, 2016)
also presented by C.

Trudy has betrayed her husband, John. She’s still in the marital home a dilapidated, priceless London townhouse but John’s not here. Instead, she’s with his brother, the profoundly banal Claude, and the two of them have a plan. But there is a witness to their plot: the inquisitive, nine-month old resident of Trudy’s womb.
Told from a perspective unlike any other, Nutshell is a classic tale of murder and deceit from one of the world’s master storytellers.


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Written In the Ashes: giveaway winner

We have a winner!



a copy of


Written In the Ashes by K. Hollan Van ZandtWritten In the Ashes,
by K. Hollan Van Zandt

Publisher: Harper Collins (Sept. 27, 2016
Category: Historical Fiction
Tour Dates: October/November, 2016
Available in: ebook,  554Pages

Written in the Ashes is one of those rare novels that sets ‘history’ afire, to bathe readers in the glow of a greater, hotter truth. Fans of The Mists of Avalon will find this romantic/alchemical/feminist/spiritual epic equally captivating.”—Tom Robbins, bestselling author of Tibetan Peach Pie: A True Account of an Imaginative Life, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. and Villa Incognito

In the bloody clash between Christians and pagans in fifth-century Alexandria, a servant girl becomes the last hope for preserving peace in this evocative and thrilling tale—a blend of history, adventure, religion, romance, and mysticism reminiscent of The Mists of Avalon.

After she is abducted from her home in the mountains of Sinai, Hannah is enslaved and taken to Alexandria, where she becomes the property of Alizar, an alchemist and pagan secretly working to preserve his culture. Revered for her beautiful singing voice, the young slave is invited to perform at the city’s Great Library, where she becomes friends with the revered mathematician and philosopher, Hypatia, as well as other pagans who curate its magnificent collections. Determined to help them uphold pagan culture and traditions, Hannah embarks on a dangerous quest to unite the fractured pieces of the Emerald Tablet—the last hope to save the pagans and create peace.

On this odyssey that leads her to the lost oracles of Delfi and Amun-Ra and to rediscovered ancient cities and rituals, Hannah will experience forbidden loves, painful betrayals, and poignant reunions. But her efforts may be in vain. Returning to Alexandria, Hannah finds a city engulfed in violence, even as her own romantic entanglements come to a head. Now, it’s not only her future, but the fate of all Alexandria that is at stake.

The Lost Diaries of Elizabeth Cady Stanton: Giveaway winner

We have a winner!

lost-diaries-winner Steph

won a copy of


Lost Diaries of Elizabeth Cady Stanton by Sarah BatesThe Lost Diaries of Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
by Sarah Bates

Publisher:, Inc. (February 15, 2016)
Category: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance
Tour Dates: Oct/Nov, 2016
ISBN: 978-1634910262
Available in: Print & ebook,  420 Pages

The Lost Diaries of Elizabeth Cady Stanton


From award winning author, Sarah Bates, Johnstown, New York, 1823: It is a time when a wife’s dowry, even children, automatically becomes her husband’s property. Slavery is an economic advantage entrenched in America but rumblings of abolition abound.

For Elizabeth Cady to confront this culture is unheard of, yet that is exactly what she does. Before she can become a leader of the women’s rights movement and prominent abolitionist, she faces challenges fraught with disappointment. Her father admires her intellect but says a woman cannot aspire to the goals of men. Her sister’s husband becomes her champion–but secretly wants more. Religious fervor threatens to consume her.

As she faces depression and despair, she records these struggles and other dark confidences in diaries. When she learns the journals might fall into the wrong hands and discredit her, she panics and rips out pages of entries that might destroy her hard-fought reputation. Relieved, she believes they are lost to history forever.

But are they? Travel with Elizabeth into American history and discover a young woman truly ahead of her time.

About Sarah Bates


Buy Lost Diaries of Elizabeth Cady Stanton

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