"No man can be called friendless when he has God and the companionship of good books."

- Elizabeth Barret Browning

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

February's Book An American Wife Discussion Questions

Hello Bloggy Readers!
It's March 1st already! Can you believe we are already starting our third book " Angela's Ashes" for the  month of March? I'm getting my copy tomorrow. :) Below are the questions for February's book "An American Wife" By: Curtis Sittenfeld. I am posting the discussion questions today and I will give us a week to comment and start a discussion on them! What were your thoughts on this book? Did you like it or not? Would you recommend it?

1. The novel opens and ends with Alice Blackwell wondering if she’s made terrible mistakes. Do you think she has? If so, what are they?

2. Alice’s grandmother passes down her love of reading to Alice. What else do they have in common? What does reading provide for Alice throughout her life?

3. Why does Andrew Imhof remain such an important figure to Alice, even decades later? Do you think they would have ended up together under different circumstances?

4. To what do you attribute Dena’s anger at what she calls Alice’s betrayal? Do you think her anger is justified? Are there other issues influencing Dena’s decision regarding their relationship?

5. After her confrontation with Pete Imhof in her early thirties, Alice states, “Long ago, I had become my own confidante.” What does she mean by this?

6. Is Charlie Blackwell a likable character? How did you feel about Alice’s decision to stay with him despite the problems they encountered in their marriage? Why do you think she continues to love him even though they are so different in so many ways?

7. Alice states that she lives a life in opposition to itself. What does she mean by this statement, and do you agree with it?

8. Does Alice compromise herself and her ideals by marrying Charlie? She tells him before they wed that she never wants to become a public figure. Do you think this has changed by the time he becomes president?

9. Were you surprised by the scene between Alice and Joe at the Princeton reunion? Why do you think it happened?

10. What would you have done in Alice’s situation at the end of the novel if you shared her beliefs? Do you think it was wrong of her to take the stance she did?

11. How do you think Laura Bush would react to this novel if she read it?

12. How is this book different from Sittenfeld’s previous two novels, other than in its subject matter?

Happy Reading!

January Book Questions For "Crazy Love" By: Francis Chan

Hello Everyone!
I'm so glad to see we have a nice amount of followers! Well, I don;t know about all of you but I just fell in love with Crazy Love! I truly felt the Lord was teaching me so much through this book. At times I was convicted, uplifted and in awe of the works of our Savior! This book gave me that extra jump start I needed in my relationship with the Lord. I think Francis Chan is a wonderful writer who is truly anointed by the Holy Spirit.
What did you think of this book? What are your thoughts? Did the book make you think? Please share! :)

Happy Reading!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Introduce Yourself Bloggy Readers

Hello, my name is Sarah. I am an avid reader and blogger. I have combined my two loves and have committed myself to reading at least one book a month. I am expecting my first child in May of 2011, so for now one book a month is just perfect. Please join me in reading and sharing about these books on this blog! :) Now it's your turn to share! Tell us who you are??

The 2011 Bloggy Book Club Reading List

I am an avid reader. I love books and always have. There is something about walking into a Borders, Barnes & Nobel or Vroman's book store that thrills me! I love the smell of a new book when you break open it's binding for the fist time, the feel of the paper and especially the art work and illustrations in a children's book. ( Must be the elementary school teacher in me ) :).

I know my love of books comes from my Grandma Vera ( my Mom's Mother). Grandma Vera has passed now, but I have so many fond memories of her reading to me and teaching me the importance of a book. As a child Grandma Vera could only afford to buy books when she saved her allowances to do so. It always made her so sad to see a child or adult throw a book or bend it's binding back to the point where it was warn and ragged. She taught me that books are to be respected, they are a wealth of knowledge and a privilege. Years later I became an elementary school teacher with a room full of second graders. I would like to think that I passed on my love for books and reading to my previous students. Every month I would present my class with a new book. After reading it to my students I would place it on the chalkboard for them to come up and view it individually.

You can probably imagine I am not really a huge fan of the whole Ipad, Kindle, Nook movement. Don't get me wrong I think they seem pretty nifty. However, there is something about selecting a book at the store, bringing it home, reading it and placing it on a shelf with all the others you have read. A sense of accomplishment I guess. As a little girl my Mom would take me to Crown Book Store in our town every Friday after school to buy the next Baby Sitter's club book in that series. I hope the new wave of technology doesn't all together omit hard copy books.

A few years back during college I started off the new year with a book challenge of reading one non school book a week. I kept to that challenge and had a very rewarding year. A year with less television, less phone time and more time spent enriching my brain. However, now with a busy schedule and a new baby on his way in a few months, I'm afraid a book a week might be a bit ambitious!

I have always kept a list of books I would like to read, books that others have told me are excellent and a MUST read. All year I have had this list in my purse. Some of the books I already own and have not yet read. So, this is my project for 2011. I would love it if any of you active readers out there would join me. Your mission, should you choose to accept is to read the book for that month, perhaps leave comments on the books, share your thoughts. A kind of blog book club! :) Here are the books I have selected and 100% committed myself to reading each month. The teacher in me once again has tried to tie together a theme for the month which corresponds with the book pick for that month! If you choose to partake in this
challenge please share with me which form of reading you most prefer, good old fashion bound book, Ipad, Kindle, Nook etc...

Happy Reading To You All!

: Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan

Theme: The start of a fresh New Year. The beginning of a new kind of love for the Lord. Change!

Plot Summary:
"God is love. Crazy, relentless, all-powerful love. Have you ever wondered if we’re missing it? It’s crazy, if you think about it. The God of the universe—the Creator of nitrogen and pine needles, galaxies and E-minor—loves us with a radical, unconditional, self-sacrificing love. And what is our typical response? We go to church, sing songs, and try not to cuss. Whether you’ve verbalized it yet or not...we all know somethings wrong. Does something deep inside your heart long to break free from the status quo? Are you hungry for an authentic faith that addresses the problems of our world with tangible, even radical, solutions? God is calling you to a passionate love relationship with Himself. Because the answer to religious complacency isn’t working harder at a list of do’s and don’ts—it’s falling in love with God. And once you encounter His love, as Francis describes it, you will never be the same. Because when you’re wildly in love with someone, it changes everything."

February: American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
Theme: Love Story, Romance

Plot Summary:
"On what might become one of the most significant days in her husband’s presidency, Alice Blackwell considers the strange and unlikely path that has led her to the White House–and the repercussions of a life lived, as she puts it, “almost in opposition to itself.”
In Alice Blackwell, New York Times bestselling author Curtis Sittenfeld has created her most dynamic and complex heroine yet. American Wife is a gorgeously written novel that weaves class, wealth, race, and the exigencies of fate into a brilliant tapestry–a novel in which the unexpected becomes inevitable, and the pleasures and pain of intimacy and love are laid bare."

March: Angels's Ashes by Frank McCourt

Theme: Ireland for St. Patrick's Day

Plot Summary:
"When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood."

So begins the luminous memoir of Frank McCourt, born in Depression-era Brooklyn to recent Irish immigrants and raised in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. Frank's mother, Angela, has no money to feed the children since Frank's father, Malachy, rarely works, and when he does he drinks his wages. Yet Malachy does nurture in Frank an appetite for the one thing he can provide: a story.

Perhaps it is a story that accounts for Frank's survival. Wearing rags for diapers, begging a pig's head for Christmas dinner, and searching the pubs for his father, Frank endures poverty, near-starvation and the casual cruelty of relatives and neighbors yet lives to tell his tale with eloquence, exuberance and remarkable forgiveness.

Imbued with Frank McCourt's astounding humor and compassion -- and movingly read in his own voice -- Angela's Ashes is a glorious audiobook that bears all the marks of a classic. "

April: Redeeming Love by: Francine RiversTheme: Reminding us of God's all conditional love, and his sacrifice for us to have life.

Plot Summary:"California’s gold country, 1850. A time when men sold their souls for a bag of gold and women sold their bodies for a place to sleep. Angel expects nothing from men but betrayal. Sold into prostitution as a child, she survives by keeping her hatred alive. And what she hates most are the men who use her, leaving her empty and dead inside. Then she meets Michael Hosea. A man who seeks his Father’s heart in everything, Michael Hosea obeys God’s call to marry Angel and to love her unconditionally. Slowly, day by day, he defies Angel’s every bitter expectation until, despite her resistance her frozen heart begins to thaw. But with her unexpected softening come overwhelming feelings of unworthiness and fear. And so Angel runs. Back to the darkness, away from her husband’s pursuing love, terrified of the truth she can no longer deny: Her final healing must come from the One who loves her even more than Michael Hosea does…the One who will never let her go. A life-changing story of God’s unconditional, redemptive, all-consuming love. Over 1 million copies sold!"

May: Shepherding A Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp and/ or
Little Women by: Louisa Mae Alcott

( Because I couldn't' choose just one and not all of us have children.)

Theme: A Mother's theme

Plot Summary:
Shepherding A Child's Heart :
"Written for parents with children of any age, this insightful book provides perspectives and procedures for shepherding your child's heart into the paths of life. Shepherding a Child's Heart gives fresh biblical approaches to child rearing. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title."

Little Women:
Plot Summary:
" Here's the story in a nutshell: During the Civil War, Mr. March is away serving as a chaplain in the Union army. Mrs. March (Marmee) and her four daughters are at home in the cold north making do on small income with the help of one servant, Hannah. As the story opens, the March family is facing a frugal Christmas. But events soon take an unexpected turn and their hearts are filled with gladness. Jo makes an unexpected and most humorous acquaintance of the Laurence boy (Theodore, known as Laurie) who lives next door with old Mr. Laurance, his grandfather. The two families draw upon one another for strength and friendships grow. Illness intercedes making the two families even more dependent on one another. One by one, the children move into adulthood, deal with their romantic feelings and form their alliances.
What a joy!"

June: Decision Points by: George W. Bush
Theme: Making Meaningful Decisions

Plot Summary:
"In this candid and gripping account, President George W. Bush describes the critical decisions that shaped his presidency and personal life.

George W. Bush served as president of the United States during eight of the most consequential years in American history. The decisions that reached his desk impacted people around the world and defined the times in which we live.

Decision Points brings readers inside the Texas governor's mansion on the night of the 2000 election, aboard Air Force One during the harrowing hours after the attacks of September 11, 2001, into the Situation Room moments before the start of the war in Iraq, and behind the scenes at the White House for many other historic presidential decisions.

For the first time, we learn President Bush's perspective and insights on:

His decision to quit drinking and the journey that led him to his Christian faith
The selection of the vice president, secretary of defense, secretary of state, Supreme Court justices, and other key officials
His relationships with his wife, daughters, and parents, including heartfelt letters between the president and his father on the eve of the Iraq War
His administration's counterterrorism programs, including the CIA's enhanced interrogations and the Terrorist Surveillance Program
Why the worst moment of the presidency was hearing accusations that race played a role in the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina, and a critical assessment of what he would have done differently during the crisis
His deep concern that Iraq could turn into a defeat costlier than Vietnam, and how he decided to defy public opinion by ordering the troop surge
His legislative achievements, including tax cuts and reforming education and Medicare, as well as his setbacks, including Social Security and immigration reform
The relationships he forged with other world leaders, including an honest assessment of those he did and didn’t trust
Why the failure to bring Osama bin Laden to justice ranks as his biggest disappointment and why his success in denying the terrorists their fondest wish—attacking America again—is among his proudest achievements
A groundbreaking new brand of presidential memoir, Decision Points will captivate supporters, surprise critics, and change perspectives on eight remarkable years in American history—and on the man at the center of events.

Since leaving office, President George W. Bush has led the George W. Bush Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. The center includes an active policy institute working to advance initiatives in the fields of education reform, global health, economic growth, and human freedom, with a special emphasis on promoting social entrepreneurship and creating opportunities for women around the world. It will also house an official government archive and a state-of-the-art museum that will open in 2013."

July: The Help by Kathryn Stockett Theme: The South and Southern American History

Plot Summary :
Starred Review. What perfect timing for this optimistic, uplifting debut novel (and maiden publication of Amy Einhorn's new imprint) set during the nascent civil rights movement in Jackson, Miss., where black women were trusted to raise white children but not to polish the household silver. Eugenia Skeeter Phelan is just home from college in 1962, and, anxious to become a writer, is advised to hone her chops by writing about what disturbs you. The budding social activist begins to collect the stories of the black women on whom the country club sets relies and mistrusts enlisting the help of Aibileen, a maid who's raised 17 children, and Aibileen's best friend Minny, who's found herself unemployed more than a few times after mouthing off to her white employers. The book Skeeter puts together based on their stories is scathing and shocking, bringing pride and hope to the black community, while giving Skeeter the courage to break down her personal boundaries and pursue her dreams. Assured and layered, full of heart and history, this one has bestseller written all over it. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

August: Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah Theme: Friendship

Plot Summary:

"In the turbulent summer of 1974, Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the eighth-grade social food chain. Then, to her amazement, the "coolest girl in the world" moves in across the street and wants to be her friend. Tully Hart seems to have it all---beauty, brains, ambition. On the surface they are as opposite as two people can be: Kate, doomed to be forever uncool, with a loving family who mortifies her at every turn. Tully, steeped in glamour and mystery, but with a secret that is destroying her. They make a pact to be best friends forever; by summer’s end they’ve become TullyandKate. Inseparable."

September: The Overnight Socialite by Birdie ClarkTheme: Just For Fun

Plot Summary:"The Overnight Socialite by Bridie Clark is a modern day story of Pygmalion, and the hate the antagonists feel for one another causes some hilarious scenes throughout their journey together. The writing is solid, and just when I kept thinking I would know the ending, I was surprised at the turn the plot would take. I thought this was a charming tale, with engaging characters and over-the-top parties that will keep chick lit readers hooked throughout."

October: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson Theme: Mystery

Plot Summary:"Once you start The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, there's no turning back. This debut thriller--the first in a trilogy from the late Stieg Larsson--is a serious page-turner rivaling the best of Charlie Huston and Michael Connelly. Mikael Blomkvist, a once-respected financial journalist, watches his professional life rapidly crumble around him. Prospects appear bleak until an unexpected (and unsettling) offer to resurrect his name is extended by an old-school titan of Swedish industry. The catch--and there's always a catch--is that Blomkvist must first spend a year researching a mysterious disappearance that has remained unsolved for nearly four decades. With few other options, he accepts and enlists the help of investigator Lisbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius with a cache of authority issues. Little is as it seems in Larsson's novel, but there is at least one constant: you really don't want to mess with the girl with the dragon tattoo. --Dave Callanan"

November: Prep by Curtis SittenfeldTheme: School Days

Plot Summary:
"Curtis Sittenfeld’s debut novel, Prep, is an insightful, achingly funny coming-of-age story as well as a brilliant dissection of class, race, and gender in a hothouse of adolescent angst and ambition."

December: The Prayer Chest by August Gold and Joel Fotinos
Theme: The Meaning of Christmas

Plot Summary:"Co founders of Sacred Center New York, Gold and Fotinos offer a spiritual parable that will appeal to fans of It's a Wonderful Life."