Recap of our Block Book Club April meeting
Recap of the titles weshared [synopsis from Goodreads.com]:
by J.J. Hensley (March 2013) [presented by B]
In the Pittsburgh Marathon, 18,000 people from all over the world will participate. Over 9,500 will run the half marathon, 4,000 will run brief stretches as part of a relay. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. And one man is going to be murdered.
When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows who is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill them.
As a professor of Criminology at Three Rivers University, and a former police officer, Dr. Cyprus Keller is an expert in criminal behavior and victimology. However, when one of his female students is murdered and his graduate assistant attempts to kill him, Keller finds himself frantically swinging back and forth between being a suspect and a victim. When the police assign a motive to the crimes that Keller knows cannot be true, he begins to ask questions that somebody out there does not want answered.
In the course of 26.2 miles, Keller recounts how he found himself encircled by a series of killings that have shocked the city, while literally pursuing his prey – the man who was behind it all.
2) Split Second (FBI Thriller #15)
by Catherine Coulter (2011) [presented by J]
The number-one New York Times-bestselling author returns with another pulse-pounding thriller featuring FBI agents Dillon Savich and Lacey Sherlock, and introducing Speical Agents Lucy Carlyle and Cooper McKnight.
A serial killer is on the loose, and it’s up to FBI agents Dillon Savich and Lacey Sherlock to bring him down. They soon discover that the killer has blood ties to an infamous and now long-dead monster. Savich and Sherlock are joined by agents Lucy Carlyle and Cooper McKnight, and the chase is on.
At the same time, Agent Carlyle learns from her dying father that her grandfather didn’t simply walk away from his family twenty-two years ago: he was, in fact, murdered by his wife, Lucy’s grandmother. Determined to find the truth, Lucy moves into her grandmother’s Chevy Chase mansion. What she finds, however, is a nightmare. Not only does she discover the truth of what happened all those years ago, but she faces a new mystery, one that has been passed down from mother to daughter for generations.
As the hunt for the serial killer escalates, Savich realizes he’s become the killer’s focus, and perhaps the next victim. It’s up to Lucy to stop this madness before it’s too late.
3) The Storyteller
by Jodi Picoult (Feb 2013) [presented by A]
Sage Singer befriends an old man who’s particularly beloved in her community. Josef Weber is everyone’s favorite retired teacher and Little League coach. They strike up a friendship at the bakery where Sage works. One day he asks Sage for a favor: to kill him. Shocked, Sage refuses…and then he confesses his darkest secret – he deserves to die, because he was a Nazi SS guard. Complicating the matter? Sage’s grandmother is a Holocaust survivor.
What do you do when evil lives next door? Can someone who’s committed a truly heinous act ever atone for it with subsequent good behavior? Should you offer forgiveness to someone if you aren’t the party who was wronged? And most of all – if Sage even considers his request – is it murder, or justice?
4) Stalin, The History Of A Dictator
by H. Montgomery Hyde (1971) [presented by P]
sorry guys, could not find any online synopsis. It is a thorough biography of 679 pages
P. also presented:
5) Dr Zhivago
by Boris Pasternak (1957)
In the grand tradition of the epic novel, Boris Pasternak’s masterpiece brings to life the drama and immensity of the Russian Revolution through the story of the gifted physician-poet, Zhivago; the revolutionary, Strelnikov; and Lara, the passionate woman they both love. Caught up in the great events of politics and war that eventually destroy him and millions of others, Zhivago clings to the private world of family life and love, embodied especially in the magical Lara.
First published in Italy in 1957, Doctor Zhivago was not allowed to appear in the Soviet Union until 1987, twenty-seven years after the author’s death.
6) Cutting for Stone
by Abraham Verghese (2009) [presented by M]
Click on the book cover to read my review
A sweeping, emotionally riveting first novel—an enthralling family saga of Africa and America, doctors and patients, exile and home.
Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa. Orphaned by their mother’s death in childbirth and their father’s disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution. Yet it will be love, not politics—their passion for the same woman—that will tear them apart and force Marion, fresh out of medical school, to flee his homeland. He makes his way to America, finding refuge in his work as an intern at an underfunded, overcrowded New York City hospital. When the past catches up to him—nearly destroying him—Marion must entrust his life to the two men he thought he trusted least in the world: the surgeon father who abandoned him and the brother who betrayed him.
An unforgettable journey into one man’s remarkable life, and an epic story about the power, intimacy, and curious beauty of the work of healing others
7) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and the whole series
by J.K. Rowling (2003) [jointly presented by R and P]
Harry Potter has never played a sport while flying on a broomstick. He’s never worn a Cloak of Invisibility, befriended a giant, or helped hatch a dragon. All Harry knows is a miserable life with the Dursleys, his horrible aunt and uncle, and their abominable son, Dudley. Harry’s room is a tiny cupboard under the stairs, and he hasn’t had a birthday party in ten years.
But all that is about to change when a mysterious letter arrives by owl messenger: a letter with an invitation to a wonderful place he never dreamed existed. There he finds not only friends, aerial sports, and magic around every corner, but a great destiny that’s been waiting for him… if Harry can survive the encounter
8) Cannery Row
by John Steinbeck (1945) [presented by R]
Cannery Row is a book without much of a plot. Rather, it is an attempt to capture the feeling and people of a place, the cannery district of Monterey, California, which is populated by a mix of those down on their luck and those who choose for other reasons not to live “up the hill” in the more respectable area of town. The flow of the main plot is frequently interrupted by short vignettes that introduce us to various denizens of the Row, most of whom are not directly connected with the central story. These vignettes are often characterized by direct or indirect reference to extreme violence: suicides, corpses, and the cruelty of the natural world.
The “story” of Cannery Row follows the adventures of Mack and the boys, a group of unemployed yet resourceful men who inhabit a converted fish-meal shack on the edge of a vacant lot down on the Row
9) The Heming Way: How to Unleash the Booze-Inhaling, Animal-Slaughtering, War-Glorifying, Hairy-Chested Retro-Sexual Legend Within, Just Like Papa!
by Marty Beckerman (2012) [presented by J]
Marty Beckerman’s hilarious guide for the modern man to booze, battle, and bull-fight his way to becoming more like Hemingway
More than fifty years have passed since the death of Ernest Hemingway, history’s ultimate man, and young males today—obsessed with Facebook, Twitter, and Playstation—know nothing about his legendary brand of rugged, alcoholic masculinity. They cannot skin a fish, dominate a battlefield, or transform majestic creatures of the Southern Hemisphere into piano keyboards.
The Heming Way demonstrates how modern eunuchs—brainwashed by PETA and Alcoholics Anonymous—can learn from Papa’s unparalleled example: drunken, unshaven, meat-devouring, wife-divorcing, and gloriously self-destructive.
How to kill enough animals to render a species endangered—just like Papa!
Getting your friends to think drinking a daiquiri is manly . . . just by drinking one nine yourself
Achieving sufficiently high testosterone levels to never have to worry about the chance of having a daughter instead of a son
And much more!
Profane, insightful, hilarious and loaded with more than 150 photos, facts and insights about Papa, The Heming Way is a difficult path, and not for the weak, but truth is manlier than fiction
10) Love is a Mix Tape
by Rob Sheffield (2007) [presented by R]
In this stunning memoir, Rob Sheffield, a veteran rock and pop culture critic and staff writer for Rolling Stone magazine, tells the story of his musical coming of age, and how rock music, the first love of his life, led him to his second, a girl named Renee. Rob and Renee’s life together – they wed after graduate school, both became music journalists, and were married only five years when Renee died suddenly on Mother’s Day, 1997 – is shared through the window of the mix tapes they obsessively compiled. There are mixes to court each other, mixes for road trips, mixes for doing the dishes, mixes for sleeping – and, eventually, mixes to mourn Rob’s greatest loss. The tunes were among the great musical output of the early 1990s – Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Pavement, Yo La Tengo, REM, Weezer – as well as classics by The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Aretha Franklin and more. Mixing the skilful, tragic punch of Dave Eggers and the romantic honesty of Nick Hornby, LOVE IS A MIX TAPE is a story of lost love and the kick-you-in-the-gut energy of great pop music
11) Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
by Brené Brown (2012) [jointly presented by F and P]
Researcher and thought leader Dr. Brené Brown offers a powerful new vision that encourages us to dare greatly: to embrace vulnerability and imperfection, to live wholeheartedly, and to courageously engage in our lives.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; . . . who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” —Theodore Roosevelt
Every day we experience the uncertainty, risks, and emotional exposure that define what it means to be vulnerable, or to dare greatly. Whether the arena is a new relationship, an important meeting, our creative process, or a difficult family conversation, we must find the courage to walk into vulnerability and engage with our whole hearts.
In Daring Greatly, Dr. Brown challenges everything we think we know about vulnerability. Based on twelve years of research, she argues that vulnerability is not weakness, but rather our clearest path to courage, engagement, and meaningful connection. The book that Dr. Brown’s many fans have been waiting for, Daring Greatly will spark a new spirit of truth—and trust—in our organizations, families, schools, and communities.
During the discussion, 2 other books were mentioned:
The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
by Brené Brown (2010)
Each day we face a barrage of images and ideas—from society and the media—telling us who we should be. We are led to believe that if we look perfect, live perfect, and do everything perfectly, we’d no longer struggle with feelings of inadequacy. Ironically, it’s the pursuit of perfection that fuels the message ‘never good enough.’
In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown, Ph.D., L.M.S.W., the leading expert on shame, reveals that it is actually our imperfections and vulnerabilities that connect us to one another as human beings and make us who we are. We are naturally drawn to those we view as authentic, real, and down-to-earth. It makes sense, then, that we should stop reaching for something ‘better’ and, instead, strive to be who we are, fully owning every aspect of ourselves.
This fresh 52-week guide can be read as a year-long program of WholeHearted living or by topic – whatever is the most meaningful for each reader. Brown engages our hearts, minds, and spirits in finding the beauty of authenticity and evolving our self-perceptions through fifteen guideposts that emerged from her latest groundbreaking research.
Each guidepost is illustrated with essays, stories, inspiring quotes, meditations, and dynamic creative exercises designed to help us develop the skills to accept our vulnerabilities with compassion and practice loving-kindness toward ourselves and others.
The Spirituality of Imperfection: Storytelling and the Search for Meaning
I Am Not Perfect is a simple statement of profound truth, the first step toward understanding the human condition, for to deny your essential imperfection is to deny yourself and your own humanity. The spirituality of imperfection, steeped in the rich traditions of the Hebrew prophets and Greek thinkers, Buddhist sages and Christian disciples, is a message as timeless as it is timely. This insightful work draws on the wisdom stories of the ages to provide an extraordinary wellspring of hope and inspiration to anyone thirsting for spiritual growth and guidance in these troubled times.
Who are we? Why so we so often fall short of our goals for ourselves and others? By seeking to understand our limitations and accept the inevitably of failure and pain, we being to ease the hurt and move toward a greater sense of serenity and self-awareness. The Spirituality Of Imperfection brings together stories from many spiritual and philosophical paths, weaving past traditions into a spirituality and a new way of thinking and living that works today. It speaks so anyone who yearns to find meaning within suffering. Beyond theory and technique, inside this remarkable book you will find a new way of thinking, a way of living that enables a truly human existence
F mentioned a video on http://www.ted.com/: a poem on being bullied. You can watch the video by clicking on this link: http://www.ted.com/talks /shane_koyczan_to_this_day_for_the_bullied_and_beautiful.html
You an also read the transcript, available under the video, if you prefer.
All TED conferences/videos are free. On the left menu, you can choose by topic. I have personally watched a few on ecology and environment, really excellent. I recommend this one on this guy growing vegetables in a suburb of South L.A.: http://www.ted.com/talks/ron_finley_a_guerilla_gardener_in_south_central_la.html
12) Scent of Triumph
by Jan Moran (2012) [presented by me]
Click on the book cover to read my own review
Scent of Triumph is the story of Danielle Bretancourt, a talented young French perfumer with a flair for fashion and a natural olfactory gift. In the language of perfumery, she is a Nose, with the rare ability to recognize thousands of essences by memory. The story opens on the day England declares war on Germany, and Danielle and her family are caught in the midst of a raging disaster sweeping across Europe.
Her life takes a tragic turn when her husband and son are lost behind enemy lines. She spies for the French resistance, determined to find them, but is forced to flee Europe with fragments of her family. Destitute, she mines her talents to create a magnificent perfume that captures the hearts of Hollywood’s top stars, then gambles again to win wealth and success as a couturier. Her intelligence and flair attracts the adoration of Jonathan Newell-Grey, of England’s top shipping conglomerate, and Cameron Murphy, Hollywood’s most charismatic star.
Danielle charts her course through devastating wartime losses and revenge; lustful lovers and loveless marriages; and valiant struggles to reunite her family. Set between privileged lifestyles and gritty realities, here is one woman’s story of courage, spirit, and resilience.