Block Book Club #2

 

Our local book club was very excited to meet for its second time. Some were reading books presented by other members last month, so it sounds like the trading titles format is working well.

Here are the books shared this time:

Meeting #2 on 02/09/2012

(synopsis taken from Goodreads.com)

1. Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken: A World War II Story Of Survival, Resilience, And Redemption (2010)
On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood.  Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared.  It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard.  So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.
The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini.  In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails.  As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile.  But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.
Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater.  Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion.  His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.
In her long-awaited new book, Laura Hillenbrand writes with the same rich and vivid narrative voice she displayed in Seabiscuit.  Telling an unforgettable story of a man’s journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit.

Link to Emma’s review on her blog [it includes a book trailer]:https://wordsandpeace.com/2010/12/14/unbroken/ [you can also go to http://wordsandpeace.com , and type ‘Unbroken’ in the search box on the top right.]

2. Richard Powers, The Time of Our Singing (2002)
On Easter day, 1939, at Marian Anderson’s epochal concert on the Washington Mall, David Strom, a German Jewish émigré scientist, meets Delia Daley, a young Philadelphia Negro studying to be a singer. Their mutual love of music draws them together, and—against all odds and better judgment—they marry. They vow to raise their children beyond time, beyond identity, steeped only in song. Jonah, Joseph, and Ruth grow up, however, during the Civil Rights era, coming of age in the violent 1960s, and living out adulthood in the racially retrenched late century. Jonah, the eldest, “whose voice could make heads of state repent,” follows a life in his parents’ beloved classical music. Ruth, the youngest, devotes herself to community activism and repudiates the white culture her brother represents. Joseph, the middle child and the narrator of this generation-bridging tale, struggles to find himself and remain connected to them both.

3. Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper (2005)
“New York Times” bestselling author Jodi Picoult is widely acclaimed for her keen insights into the hearts and minds of real people. Now she tells the emotionally riveting story of a family torn apart by conflicting needs and a passionate love that triumphs over human weakness.
Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood. The product of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate–a life and a role that she has never challenged…until now. Like most teenagers, Anna is beginning to question who she truly is. But unlike most teenagers, she has always been defined in terms of her sister–and so Anna makes a decision that for most would be unthinkable, a decision that will tear her family apart and have perhaps fatal consequences for the sister she loves.
“My Sister’s Keeper” examines what it means to be a good parent, a good sister, a good person. Is it morally correct to do whatever it takes to save a child’s life, even if that means infringing upon the rights of another? Is it worth trying to discover who you really are, if that quest makes you like yourself less? Should you follow your own heart, or let others lead you? Once again, in “My Sister’s Keeper, ” Jodi Picoult tackles a controversial real-life subject with grace, wisdom, and sensitivity.

4. William Kent Krueger, Iron Lake (Cork O’Connor #1) [1998-2011]

Here is the synopsis of the #1 in the series, but E. presented the whole series. So far, 11 volumes have been published.

William Kent Krueger joined the ranks of today’s best suspense novelists with this thrilling, universally acclaimed debut. Conjuring “a sense of place he’s plainly honed firsthand in below-zero prairie” “(Kirkus Reviews), ” Krueger brilliantly evokes northern Minnesota’s lake country — and reveals the dark side of its snow-covered landscape.

Part Irish, part Anishinaabe Indian, Corcoran “Cork” O’Connor is the former sheriff of Aurora, Minnesota. Embittered by his “former” status, and the marital meltdown that has separated him from his children, Cork gets by on heavy doses of caffeine, nicotine, and guilt. Once a cop on Chicago’s South Side, there’s not much that can shock him. But when the town’s judge is brutally murdered, and a young Eagle Scout is reported missing, Cork takes on a mind-jolting case of conspiracy, corruption, and scandal.

As a lakeside blizzard buries Aurora, Cork must dig out the truth among town officials who seem dead-set on stopping his investigation in its tracks. But even Cork freezes up when faced with the harshest enemy of all: a small-town secret that hits painfully close to home.

 

5. Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind (1936) [audiobook]

Revisit the South and fall under the spell of Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler all over again. After six decades, this sweeping saga set against the backdrop of the war-torn South remains one of the most beloved American novels ever written.

 

6. Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games/Catching Fire/Mockingjay (2008-2010) [presented by Pat]

Synopsis of the 1st volume:

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.
Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister Primrose, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before — and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love

 

7. A. presented the 2012 Master List of Rebecca Caudill Young Readers Book Award (Illinois Children=s Choice Award) – grades 4 through 8. See here: http://www.rcyrba.org/pdf/2012MasterList.pdf

One of the books she enjoyed a lot on that list a few years ago was:

Gary D. Schmidt, The Wednesday Wars (2000):

Gary D. Schmidt offers an unforgettable antihero in THE WEDNESDAY WARSin the most unexpected places and musters up the courage to embrace his destiny, in spite of himself.

 

8. Norman Ollestad, Crazy For The Storm (2009)

“Dad Said

Olestad, we can do it all. . . .”

Why do you make me do this?

“Because it’s beautiful when it all comes together. ”

I don’t think it’s ever beautiful.

“One day.”

Never.

“We’ll see, my father said. Vamanos.”

From the age of three, Norman Ollestad was thrust into the world of surfing and competitive downhill skiing by the intense, charismatic father he both idolized and resented. While his friends were riding bikes, playing ball, and going to birthday parties, young Norman was whisked away in pursuit of wild and demanding adventures. Yet it were these exhilarating tests of skill that prepared “Boy Wonder,” as his father called him, to become a fearless champion–and ultimately saved his life.

Flying to a ski championship ceremony in February 1979, the chartered Cessna carrying Norman, his father, his father’s girlfriend, and the pilot crashed into the San Gabriel Mountains and was suspended at 8,200 feet, engulfed in a blizzard. “Dad and I were a team, and he was Superman,” Ollestad writes. But now Norman’s father was dead, and the devastated eleven-year-old had to descend the treacherous, icy mountain alone.

Set amid the spontaneous, uninhibited surf culture of Malibu and Mexico in the late 1970s, this riveting memoir, written in crisp Hemingwayesque prose, recalls Ollestad’s childhood and the magnetic man whose determination and love infuriated and inspired him–and also taught him to overcome the indomitable. As it illuminates the complicated bond between an extraordinary father and his son, Ollestad’s powerful and unforgettable true story offers remarkable insight for us all.

 

9. Claire Tomalin, Charles Dickens: A Life (2011) [presented by me on the occasion of Dickens’ 200th birthday on 2/7/2012]

The tumultuous life of England’s greatest novelist, beautifully rendered by unparalleled literary biographer Claire Tomalin.

When Charles Dickens died in 1870, “The Times” of London successfully campaigned for his burial in Westminster Abbey, the final resting place of England’s kings and heroes. Thousands flocked to mourn the best recognized and loved man of nineteenth-century England. His books had made them laugh, shown them the squalor and greed of English life, and also the power of personal virtue and the strength of ordinary people. In his last years Dickens drew adoring crowds to his public appearances, had met presidents and princes, and had amassed a fortune.

Like a hero from his novels, Dickens trod a hard path to greatness. Born into a modest middle-class family, his young life was overturned when his profligate father was sent to debtors’ prison and Dickens was forced into harsh and humiliating factory work. Yet through these early setbacks he developed his remarkable eye for all that was absurd, tragic, and redemptive in London life. He set out to succeed, and with extraordinary speed and energy made himself into the greatest English novelist of the century.

Years later Dickens’s daughter wrote to the author George Bernard Shaw, “If you could make the public understand that my father was not a joyous, jocose gentleman walking about the world with a plum pudding and a bowl of punch, you would greatly oblige me.” Seen as the public champion of household harmony, Dickens tore his own life apart, betraying, deceiving, and breaking with friends and family while he pursued an obsessive love affair.

“Charles Dickens: A Life” gives full measure to Dickens’s heroic stature-his huge virtues both as a writer and as a human being- while observing his failings in both respects with an unblinking eye. Renowned literary biographer Claire Tomalin crafts a story worthy of Dickens’s own pen, a comedy that turns to tragedy as the very qualities that made him great-his indomitable energy, boldness, imagination, and showmanship-finally destroyed him. The man who emerges is one of extraordinary contradictions, whose vices and virtues were intertwined as surely as his life and his art.

Link to my review on this blog: https://wordsandpeace.com/2012/01/23/review-2-2012-charles-dickes-a-life/

 

Other titles briefly mentioned:

I’m sure there were many more, but these are the titles I heard
– Annie Barrows, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
– Jodi Picoult, The Tenth Cicrle and Nineteen Minutes

– Nancy Horan, Loving Frank

– mysteries by C.J. Box

– Todd Burpo, Heaven Is For Real

– William P. Young, The Shack

– Murielle Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog [see my review here: https://wordsandpeace.com/2010/10/19/the-elegance-of-the-hedgehog/ ] and Gourmet Rhapsody  [https://wordsandpeace.com/2011/06/16/my-review-47-gourmet-rhapsody/ ]

– Erik Larson, The Devil in The White City  and In The Garden of Beasts, and Isaac’s Storm

– Joseph Heller, Catch-22 [not in too positive terms…]

– Betty Smith, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn

 

HAVE YOU TRIED YET TO SET UP
A TRADING TITLES BOOK CLUB?

2 thoughts on “Block Book Club #2

    • Thanks for your comment. we talked more about it at our previous meeting, when another member had presented it. my husband and I loved it a lot too. amazing book, even more remarkable when you know the health conditions of the author as well

      Like

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