Monday, November 07, 2016

The Sin of Certainty | (November 2016 Meeting)

Author: Peter Enns

One-sentence summary: Enns lays out an alternative to gripping what we believe about God so tightly and makes an argument for trusting Him and letting go of certainty. 

B.A.D. Girls Book Rating: 9

Our favorite thing about it: So much of this book really resonated with us.

Our least favorite thing about it: A couple of instances of the “familiar” style of writing being too familiar (using “like” like valley girls). (Again, we’re having to be really picky to find something here.)

Main Topics of Discussion: Bible, Trust, Doubt, Change, Turning Points, Recovery

Our favorite quote: “When we reach that point where things simply make no sense, when our thinking about God and life no longer line up, when any sense of certainty is gone, and when we can find no reason to trust God but we still do, well, that is what trust looks like at its brightest - when all else is dark.”

Notes: We unanimously loved this book. We all highlighted at least half of all the text. It echoed so much of what we’ve been thinking and feeling and moving toward the past 5-10 years. Despite the fact that we were pretty much already on board with all Enns had to say, we still learned some things and appreciated how he presented the “sin of certainty.” Our observations/discussions:

  • We loved how the issue of trusting God was put forth as the solution to dropping certainty. This argument is threaded throughout the book and was really well done.
  • We loved also how Enns recognized the whole human – mind and heart. Neither parts of our humanity work against us. We must use them both in our faith and when trusting God. Good stuff.
  • We talked about all the disparity that he brought up about the Bible and other texts, scientific discoveries, etc. We described how holding the Bible with open hands – and lightly – has helped us here.
  • One of our “ah-ha” moments came when he talked about how he and his Jewish friend had different views of the Adam and Eve story. Enlightening, to say the least!
  • We really, really loved how he talked about God being close in the darkness. And also how he featured the lamenting Psalms, Ecclesiastes, and Job. Pointing out the bit about trusting God, or moving toward God anyway was perfect. He also tied this into some insights into how our suffering helps us die with Christ.
  • Most of all, we appreciated how Enns didn’t pretend that he had any or all of the answers. He talked about trust, God being near in suffering, etc, but he never attempted to explain anything that our rational minds have trouble reconciling. That wasn’t the point and we loved that.

Memorable Meeting Moments: Lindsay unveiled her “nasty woman” tshirts for all of us and we took photos with them and our witch hats.

What We Ate: We had our annual Thanksgiving potluck dinner. Here’s what we all brought:

Lindsay: Ham with pineapple
Christina: Cauliflower casserole
Stephanie: Green Bean casserole
Rachel: Creamed Corn
Amberly: Sweet Potatoes
Dara: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies with Pumpkin Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child | (October 2016 Meeting)

Author: J.K. Rowling

One-sentence summary: Harry and Ginny’s son, Albus, comes into contact with a time-turner with almost disastrous results.

B.A.D. Girls Book Rating: 8

Our favorite thing about it: It’s a Harry Potter story. The End. (Just kidding – we really did like the plot and further exploration of the characters.)

Our least favorite thing about it: The painful father/son dynamic that Harry and Albus had to work through.

Main Topics of Discussion: Fathers/Sons, Time Travel, Plays vs. Novels, Various Harry Potter characters (almost all, but notably Snape and Dumbledore)

Our favorite quote: “In every shining moment of happiness is that drop of poison: the knowledge that pain will come again. Be honest to those you love, show your pain. To suffer is as human as to breathe.”

Notes: It was really fun to discuss a Harry Potter book (even though it was a play) with each other. We loved that it was a play, too. It took some of the pressure off of the story for it to be a different format than the original 7 novels and it was fun to read a play for the first time as a group. Other things we discussed:
  • We thought it was so interesting seeing Harry, Ron, and Hermione not only as adults but as parents. We resonated so much with their thoughts and feeling as parents since we are obviously parents as well. But it was also interesting to get a glimpse into their futures and what they were doing as well as glimpses into their alternate futures when Albus used the time turner.
  • We thought the unfortunate father/son relationship between Harry and Albus was sad, but realistic. And it made us think about how Harry didn’t really have a father figure as an example for himself. And it also made us think about the fact that we all make mistakes as parents – even Harry Potter!
  • We loved how we got to see more of Dumbledore’s wisdom - and just to see him again. We felt the same about Snape. It felt to us like closure to have more dialogue with him in this play.
  • The issue of time travel and time turners was, as always, an interesting plot device. Of course it brought up so many fascinating what-ifs in the world of Harry Potter. The alternate pasts were really fun to see even when they were not as they should be.
  • We loved the humor and the exploration of humanity and relationships that J.K. Rowling sneaks into all of her works. We thoroughly enjoyed it.

Memorable Meeting Moments: Dara decked out her house in Harry Potter decorations for our meeting. So fun! And we had a traditional English Pub meal as if we were dining at The Three Broomsticks or The Leaky Cauldron. And we celebrated Lindsay's birthday with birthday cards and books...AND a balloon drop!

What We Ate: Onion crostini, Bangers and Mash, and Butterbeer Cupcakes…and Butterbeer and Hot Pumpkin Juice

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Love Warrior | (September 2016 Meeting)

Author: Glennon Doyle Melton

One-sentence summary: Glennon chronicles several obstacles in her life and how she has come to see herself as a Love Warrior.

B.A.D. Girls Book Rating: 9

Our favorite thing about it: The honesty.

Our least favorite thing about it: Insight into the mind of an addict can be frustrating if you’ve never been an addict. (This is being very picky – there wasn’t really anything we didn’t like.)

Main Topics of Discussion: Addiction, Marriage, Parenting, Body Image/Eating, Religion

Our favorite quote: “You are not supposed to be happy all the time. Life hurts and it's hard. Not because you're doing it wrong, but because it hurts for everybody. Don't avoid the pain. You need it. It's meant for you. Be still with it, let it come, let it go, let it leave you with the fuel you'll burn to get your work done on this earth.”

Notes: The first things we said about this book besides that we all loved it was that the writing and organization was excellent and it was Honest. Brutally honest. Next, we all commented that it was a rare look into the mind of an addict and someone who has body issues. That was enlightening for those of us who do not fully understand those things. Other than that, here are some things we discussed:
  • We found it interesting and true to our own lives that children who grow up in the same house can have vastly different experiences and lives. Parenting matters, but sometimes kids are hardwired to view themselves and the world in such a way that makes life harder for them.
  • We discussed the ways that Glennon said friends should NOT react to another friend who is going through something hard or who is in pain. These were helpful.
  • We discussed how “religion” gets in the way of Jesus’ message to those in pain or who are struggling. We talked about specifically how to avoid that in our own lives.
  • We marveled at how real, courageous, and raw parts of this book were. We really appreciated Glennon opening up these parts of her life to teach all of us important truths about life and love.
Memorable Meeting Moments: We had our first birthday balloon drop for Dara’s birthday. We also brought her birthday books and cards as usual. Also, Rachel found out during our meeting that her credit card number had been stolen and used fraudulently. Boo.

What We Ate: We met at Chuy’s for dinner and several of us had the pork taco special. We all had margaritas or frozen sangrias. Then we moved to Henry’s Homemade Ice Cream to discuss the book and have some birthday ice cream dessert for Dara’s birthday celebration!

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Ms. Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children | (August 2016 Meeting)

Author: Ransom Riggs

One-sentence summary: A boy with a unique gift digs into his grandfather’s past and finds a group of children and their mistress who know him better than he knows himself.

B.A.D. Girls Book Rating: 8

Our favorite thing about it: We loved the dark mystery of the story.

Our least favorite thing about it: The story seemed more juvenile to us than we expected.

Main Topics of Discussion: Photos, Mystical, Time Loops, Secrets, Family

Our favorite quote: “Can you imagine, in a world so afraid of otherness, why this would be a danger to all peculiar-kind?”

Notes: We liked this story very much. The way the story enlightened you as it went along and unfolded aspects of the past and present simultaneously was very interesting. Here are some specific things we discussed:

We thought the photos included in the book were cool and we loved how they informed the story – they got written in as the author chose. Some of them seemed forced into the story a little, but most fit in seamlessly

We loved the dark and mysterious feel to the story. There were always sinister things lurking just beneath what we (as readers) and the narrator currently knew about the world and the children. It was a macabre feel, which was fun for a change.

Most of us didn’t see the time loop coming – it was a bit of a surprise as a way of explaining some of the incongruities that the narrator was discovering. We also thought this was a fun and inventive part of the story.

The whole story was predicated on the narrator knowing nothing because his grandfather kept huge secrets from him even though he suspected that his grandson was uniquely gifted too. Though we realize the story couldn’t have happened in the same way if the grandfather had divulged his secrets, it was nonetheless kind of annoying that he didn’t.

The story ended on a cliffhanger, which surprisingly didn’t lead all of us to go out and buy the next book to read. Some of us may, and some of us are content to leave the story where it ended.

If there was one general criticism it’s that the book did seem more geared toward kids, which it is. But often books are written so well that adults don’t even notice or care about that – this one showed it’s intended audience a little bit somehow.

Memorable Meeting Moments: Stephanie brought us all hand-drawn animals for our very own “lunch notes!”

What We Ate: Moscow Mule cocktails, baked zucchini “fries” with garlic aioli, Pulled pork sandwiches, roasted corn and potatoes, coleslaw, and individual cheesecakes in mason jars.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016


Author: Ally Condie

One-sentence summary: A 17 year old girl is matched with her best friend only to fall in love with someone else while discovering her government may not be as great as she was made to believe.

B.A.D. Girls Book Rating: 6

Our favorite thing about it: It was a quick, easy read.

Our least favorite thing about it: Weak story arc.

Main Topics of Discussion: Dystopian YA Fiction Genre, Choice, Happiness, Love, Manipulation

Our favorite quote: “Every minute you spend with someone gives them a part of your life and takes part of theirs.”

Notes: Our main takeaway from this book was that it was a fairly fun, quick, and easy read, but not the best example from this genre. We are a bit picky because we’ve read a lot of this genre and seen it done much better. We felt that there were two main weaknesses: 1) The story arc seemed really incomplete. 2) The writing was a bit immature for us and it didn’t have to be. Some of our other thoughts:

  • The idea of an ultra-controlling government was interesting. The removal of choice in order to make everyone’s lives “optimal” was interesting too.
  • We didn’t particularly connect with any of the characters, so we didn’t particularly care about them.
  • The writing was clunky and lacking sophistication, which got in the way of enjoying the book for us.
  • Some of the themes were great commentary on the subtle manipulation of a controlling government: we liked the words/writing theme, the idea of choices and destructive free-will, and the illusion of choice
  • The story seemed to end too soon. We felt like what happens in the second book (which we haven’t read) should have been included in this first book to complete the story. We feel like the best trilogies still have complete story arcs in each of their separate books. This one did not feel complete – and not just because of the quasi-cliff hanger at the end.
  • The main plot was driven by falling in love and making matches. It’s not a bad idea in and of itself and we definitely like the inclusion of romances and love triangles in books, but it fell a bit flat as the entire plot by itself.

Memorable Meeting Moments: We met at Frankie’s Mexican Cuisine for dinner and the restaurant staff sang “Happy Birthday” to Christina while she wore a giant sombrero! Then we went back to Stephanie’s house to fill our tumblers with wine and change into swim suits. We went swimming in one of the neighborhood pools, devoured four giant cupcakes, got kicked out by security at 9:45 because the pool closed at 9:30, and finished our evening at Stephanie’s house discussing the book!

What We Ate: Margaritas, various dishes (tamales, tacos, enchiladas, etc) and a cheesecake that the waitress brought out for Christina’s birthday. Stephanie also had four giant cupcakes for dessert – strawberry, chocolate peanut butter, red velvet and Oreo.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Red Queen

Author: Victoria Aveyard

One-sentence summary: A young woman wrestles with who to trust as she discovers a powerful hidden talent and finds herself suddenly engaged to a prince and embroiled in the beginnings of a bloody revolution.

B.A.D. Girls Book Rating: 7

Our favorite thing about it: We liked the story and it moved along, throwing out some interesting twists along the way.

Our least favorite thing about it: The writing style was all “tell” and no “show.”

Main Topics of Discussion: Dystopian YA Fiction Genre, Plot, Characterization, Betrayal

Our favorite quote: “This world is Silver, but it is also gray. There is no black and white.”

Notes: Our general impression of this book was that the story was actually quite good. We liked the plot (despite some glaring holes we’re expected to ignore) and how the events drove the book. For the first of a series, we felt like the book had a complete story arc, which we appreciated. BUT, the book suffered from poor writing style that had us raising our eyebrows in annoyance. Having read quite a bit of this genre, we felt that this interesting story was not served well by the poor writing. And now for some of our discussion points:

  • One of the more interesting things about this book were the characters. Oddly enough, the main character was one of the least interesting. The two princes were both very interesting and kept us guessing at their motives and true natures up until the very end. (Even though there was a certain predictability to the main twist at the end).
  • We especially liked Cal because he was hard to read – even for the reader outside the story looking in. We appreciated his complicated character. In fact, he was the one person that we were interested in finding out more about at the end of the book.
  • There were a few plot holes that had us scratching our heads: having Cal choose to save Mare’s life was something we could buy, but having her just try to convince him of the validity of the rebellion was never going to work. But Maven convinced all of the rebels to act based on Cal choosing to save Mare’s life. So, huh?
  • The sentence, “anyone can betray anyone” was repeated way too much. Ok, we get it. This is where the “telling” style of writing fell way short of “showing.” It’s like the author didn’t trust us to get it with just the actions and words of the characters (which is showing). No, he had to have Mare say it to herself so that we would have it literally spelled out for us. Sigh. There are many other examples of this.

Memorable Meeting Moments: We were at the lake house! We waited until the last day (Sunday) to discuss the book because we were waiting on a couple of us to finish it.

What We Ate: All of our usual lake house food (brisket tacos, Papa Murphy’s pizza, chocolate cookies, s’mores, veggies and dip, muffins, eggs, smoothies.)

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Ordinary Grace

Author: William Kent Krueger

One-sentence summary: One summer in a young boy’s life is filled with tragedy, loss of innocence, and more revelations about life than he bargained for.

B.A.D. Girls Book Rating: 8

Our favorite thing about it: This was a beautiful and lyrical story with a lot of power.

Our least favorite thing about it: The female characters were stereotypical and not very well explored.

Main Topics of Discussion: Grief, Effects of War, Ministers, Brothers, nostalgia

Our favorite quote: “The miracle is this: that you will rise in the morning and be able to see again the startling beauty of the day.”

Notes: We really loved this brutal but truthful and strangely beautiful story about a young boy’s summer that forever changed his life and family. Many of the characters were so interesting and well-developed. We found so much truth in the story and beauty in the writing that we very much enjoyed the book. Here are some snippets of what we discussed:
  • Despite the fact that the narrator is a young boy, we all related to him and loved him. This is an important thing for us and a determining factor in whether or not we enjoy a book. Kudos to the author on the voice of this story.
  • There were several themes that popped up, making this book very realistic, heavy, and truthful. Coming of Age, Loss of Innocence, Rich vs. Poor, Native American treatment, etc.
  • As mentioned above, we felt that the female characters were lacking. They didn’t seem as interesting or well-developed as their male counterparts and sometimes we felt like they acted very immature or stereotypical. This is basically our only criticism of the book.
  • We felt that grief was presented very realistically in the book. Each character dealt with it differently, but in ways we all could understand as realistic.
  • There was subtle commentary on the roles and expectations of a rural (or any) minister. We discussed that briefly.
  • The after-effects of war and how different soldiers dealt with it differently was, again, very realistic and interesting. The bond between soldiers who fought together was another beautiful element to the story.
  • This is the second book we’ve read recently that dealt with miracles. We really loved these parts.
  • We also really loved Jake, the brother. What a great character and a great vessel for wisdom and truth to be conveyed to the narrator.
Memorable Meeting Moments: We all toasted Stephanie’s new job before we ate.

What We Ate: Salads! Amberly made a very tasty medley of salads for us along with chips and dips.

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