Wednesday, April 05, 2017

My Notorious Life

Author: Kate Manning

One-sentence summary: A fictional account of a midwife in the mid to late 1800’s who was persecuted for her care for women, which included abortions.

B.A.D. Girls Book Rating: 7

Our favorite thing about it: The history.

Our least favorite thing about it: It was a tad too long.

Main Topics of Discussion: Women, Abortion, Healthcare, History

Our favorite quote: “It always aggravated me to see how the men, most of them, did not want to be bothered for themselves. They wanted the lady to have all the bother.”

Notes: Overall we enjoyed this book, but there were a few things we picked at. First, we felt that the story was slow in places and the book was just generally too long. We thought that if the story was “cleaned up” and “tightened up” a bit, it would have been slightly more satisfying to read.

Also, we had trouble connecting with Axie. Her language, while authentic, may have made her feel separate. And her thought processes and the way she dealt with emotions did not always resonate with us – though those were also very natural for someone with her history. As a narrator as well as main character, we would have liked to be more connected to her somehow.

The history of abortion and also how people thought about it two centuries ago was fascinating. The stories and descriptions of womens’ lives – from all walks – was so interesting as it shed light on the very difficult decisions the women were forced to make. We realized we have taken for granted the ability to control certain aspects of our health with access to birth control. It’s amazing what it means for women when that is not an option.

Likewise the womens’ voices were very interesting to us. The wit and humor of Axie was fun and funny to read. She had a mind of her own and a set of beliefs born out of experience and we loved that about her.

Memorable Meeting Moments: We celebrated Stephanie’s birthday!

What We Ate: A chicken, bacon, and artichoke pizza for an appetizer. Josh also made salmon and orzo with tomato and asparagus. Dara baked an amazing s’mores bar for us!

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Executing Grace

Author: Shane Claiborne

One-sentence summary: Claiborne details some very compelling arguments for Christians specifically to be against the death penalty.

B.A.D. Girls Book Rating: 8

Our favorite thing about it: Real life stories - the PEOPLE.

Our least favorite thing about it: If forced to pick, we felt it could have been shorter and still packed the same punch.

Main Topics of Discussion: Justice System, Penal Substitution, American History, Restorative Justice

Our favorite quote: “When we receive the gift of grace, it should transform us into grace-filled people who want to see other people given a chance, and other people loved back to life again.”

Notes: We loved the stories of real people in this book. Claiborne explains that this is a people issue and that getting to know actual people puts a face and name to an “issue.” We totally agree.

We felt the book was really well-written and laid out in a logical way, which was great. Claiborne makes a very compelling argument for Christians. Others who are not Christians may find the argument compelling too, but maybe not. Certainly the biblical texts that he invokes are well-selected for his argument and made a lot of sense to us.

This book is very educational too. Not only in the biblical sense, but also in the way it opens the reader’s eyes to the justice system and how it works. There were lots of things we didn’t know before we read this book. One of those things was the history of lynchings. We learned a lot about that.

The book, although a dark subject, is surprisingly hopeful. Though we still have the death penalty in the US, Claiborne explains that it is at its lowest and possibly on the way out. This is encouraging, but there is still work to do. Especially in our home state of Texas.

The last section – about restorative justice – was captivating to us. We loved it and the whole concept. While it seemed a little idealistic to us (and where do you start?!), we wholeheartedly agreed with the idealism. And also – we saw the merit in working toward it no matter how out of reach it seems. Exploring new avenues of justice that are restorative rather than punitive, was a great discussion.

Memorable Meeting Moments: We had our meeting mostly outside in Lindsay’s new outdoor space. The new string lights gave great ambiance to our discussion. It was such a beautiful night.

What We Ate: Crockpot Chicken with Potatoes, Homemade Hummus with Veggies and Pita Bread, Garbanzo Salad with Feta, Lemon and Basil. Brownies and Ice Cream for Dessert.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Wishful Drinking

Author: Carrie Fisher

One-sentence summary: Carrie talks about her life, habits, and career.

B.A.D. Girls Book Rating: 7

Our favorite thing about it: The humor.

Our least favorite thing about it: Sometimes fell flat.

Main Topics of Discussion: Rehab, Addiction, Acting, Famous Families

Our favorite quote: “Sometimes you can only find Heaven by slowly backing away from Hell.”

Notes: Overall we enjoyed this book. It’s interesting to note that those of us who listened to the book (which is read by Carrie Fisher) had a better impression of the book than those of us who just read it. Half of us read it and half of us listened to it. We think that the delivery made a huge difference on the written word.

The book is written in a conversational tone, which makes it easy and fun to read. This is also probably why it’s better to listen to it…the writing lends itself to that kind of delivery.

We all laughed out loud at several parts. The humor could be forthright or dry and we loved both.

It was eerie at times listening to and reading about Carrie talk about her (future, of course) death…since she has recently passed away.

Carrie gave us entertainment, a glimpse into her industry and life, and seemed very down to earth. We enjoyed the book, but definitely recommend the audible version!

Memorable Meeting Moments: This was Amberly’s birthday month.

What We Ate: Stephanie made fondue for us! We had cheese, meat, and then chocolate fondue with lots of different items to dip!

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Monday, January 30, 2017

Amberly's 40th Birthday Dinner

We took Amberly out for dinner to celebrate her 40th birthday this weekend. Her birthday is not until next month, of course, but February is strangely really busy for all of us. We had a hard time finding a meeting date for February, so we sneaked her birthday celebration in at the end of January instead. 

We picked a restaurant that was on our to-eat-at list and that was new to all of us except Dara:  Ida Claire in Addison. 

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We all loved the quirky, cozy dining room and the fun menus that looked like hard cover books. Love that cover art and the vintage-looking dishes!

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For starters, we ordered the Fried Green Tomatoes (not pictured), which were divine. We also ordered the biscuits with bacon gravy, herbed butter, and jam - amazing. Yum. And for dessert, we ordered two slices of Vice cake. was so much better than we expected from the description in the menu. Delicious. We also all had a round of cocktails from their fun, vintage-inspired drink line-up. They were all great. 

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This was just one of our entrees. It's the Chicken in a Biscuit. Dara had the Shrimp and Grits, Amberly, Christina and Lindsay all had the Red Snapper, and Stephanie had the pork chop. There were no complaints about dinner, that's for sure!

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We had a fun and very tasty meal celebrating our Amberly and her milestone birthday!

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Small Great Things (January 2017 Meeting)

Author: Jodi Picoult

One-sentence summary: A veteran labor and delivery nurse is put on trial for the death of a baby after she was asked by her supervisor (and the baby’s parents) not to touch the baby because she is black.

B.A.D. Girls Book Rating: 9

Our favorite thing about it: Everything. It’s just so well done.

Our least favorite thing about it: It’s a tough topic and parts of the book were really uncomfortable to read.

Main Topics of Discussion: Racism, Grief, Justice System

Our favorite quote: “What if the best thing for Ruth isn’t winning this case?...What if the reason this is so important to her isn’t because of what she’s going to say…but rather the fact that she is finally being given the chance to say it?”

Notes: The thing that impressed us most about this book is just how well researched it seemed. Picoult must have done her homework because we thought each of the three main perspectives presented in the novel were so honest and spot-on. Of course, that’s the opinion of 6 white women, so we can definitely speak to Kennedy’s perspective. For the other two – they seemed very real to us. This whole book is tough. You cannot dodge the social commentary that Picoult is throwing out. So, at times, it was hard to pick up. On the other hand, we could not put it down. It goes without saying that Picoult knows how to write. But the fact that she chose this topic and did it SO well is just fantastic. We finished reading and felt much better off for having read the book. Here’s a few points of our discussion:

  • One minor criticism about the ending – it was almost too neat. Almost. Having Turk do a 180 and encounter Ruth again was nice to see because it gives us hope that change really is possible. Brittany’s ending is enough of a downer that we guessed having a hopeful and full-circle ending for Turk is allowable!
  • The insight into the white power movement, while hard to read, was interesting and enlightening. Choosing young people who have terrible family lives and then taking them in, indoctrinating them, and giving them a place to belong made so much sense.
  • Kennedy’s perspective was possibly the most interesting to us because she could have been us. Her sometimes selfish motives, her obliviousness, but also her desire to help and to change. Walking through this trial with her and learning with her along the way was probably our favorite part of the book. This is just a novel, but man does it teach!
  • Picoult doesn’t let Ruth off the hook either. She learns and grows as well. She has her assumptions challenged and she makes a brave decision about the direction of her trial that could have changed her life forever.
  • As much as we didn’t want to sympathize with Brittany or Turk, we did. When their baby died. Picoult does an excellent job of shining a light into the dark world of grief. It’s shattering and also hard to read about. But so real.
  • One thing we realized about Turk and the white supremacists in general was that theirs is largely a story about anger, not hate. They choose to channel their anger (about many things – this time the death of a baby) into hate instead of actually dealing with it. When Turk figures this out, he’s finally able to let go of his hate and tackle his anger in more productive ways that don’t destroy himself, his family, or others.
Memorable Meeting Moments: This was Rachel’s birthday month so she got birthday books, cards, and a balloon drop. 

What We Ate: Amberly made us a huge crockpot full of chili with all the toppings we could want. And three types of Fritos. Sweet potato slices topped with avocado, bacon and other yummy things were our appetizer. She also got us Nothing Bundt Cupcakes for dessert!

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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Light Between Oceans (December 2016 Meeting)

Author: M.L. Steadman

One-sentence summary: A lighthouse caretaker and his wife decide to keep a lost baby as their own instead of seeking out its mother and that choice dictates the course of the rest of their lives.

B.A.D. Girls Book Rating: 8

Our favorite thing about it: This is a really great story with lots of nuances that cover the gamut of human emotion.

Our least favorite thing about it: This is a really sad story.

Main Topics of Discussion: Parenthood, Infertility, Isolation, Grief, War, Separation

Our favorite quote: “Oh, but my treasure, it is so much less exhausting (to forgive and forget). You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day. You have to keep remembering all the bad things.”

Notes: We all really liked this story, despite the fact that it is overwhelmingly sad. It’s a story that dives head first into real human emotions and explores them ruthlessly. We appreciated the perspectives of all the main characters and got caught up in the story itself. Some of us had a hard time getting into the book, but we all loved the theme of forgiveness in the second half. Some other notes:
  • Isabelle, while mostly very realistic for a mother experiencing never-ending infertility and infant loss, was sometimes hard to identify for us. On the whole, though, her character was raw, complicated, and mostly well-done.
  • It was interesting how a terrible secret between two people could eat away at Tom in the same way that the fertility ate away at Isabelle.
  • The setting of the lighthouse was really important to the story because of the isolation. We all agreed that the same story could not and would not have happened on the mainland. It was an interesting, almost alternate-reality setting.
  • The characters were really well-rounded. You liked and hated them at different points, but there was no one you could point to as a villain. They were all in impossible situations.
  • A side-theme – the effects of war on the soldiers, a country, a community, and those left behind – was also a large factor in the book. Also separation – mostly between mother and child, but also in other ways.

Memorable Meeting Moments: This was our Christmas meeting, so we gave Christmas gifts to each other and played our jeopardy game. We also did our annual Christmas book exchange. This year we decided to start our meeting a few hours early since it was a Sunday, and we all watched White Christmas in Rachel’s newly furnished media room. It was a first time to watch that movie for half of us!

What We Ate: Rachel made her family’s traditional Christmas dinner: curried meat pies served with toppings (banana, peanuts, and chutney), roasted potatoes and Brussels sprouts. She made gingerbread cupcakes with cinnamon frosting for dessert. We also had pomegranate and champagne before-dinner drinks along with cheese dip and crackers for an appetizer while we waited for the meat pies to bake.

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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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